Semi-dramatic film released in 1993. It was directed by Lasse Hallström and written by Peter Hedges, based on his own novel. It starred Johnny Depp as Gilbert Grape, Leonardo DiCaprio as Arnie Grape, Darlene Cates as Momma, Laura Harrington as Amy Grape, Mary Kate Schellhardt as Ellen Grape, Juliette Lewis as Becky, Mary Steenburgen as Betty Carver, Ken Tighe as Ken Carver, John C. Reilly as Tucker Van Dyke, Crispin Glover as Bobby McBurney, and Penelope Branning as Becky's grandmother.

Here's the basic plot: The Grape family lives in a rundown house in a small town. Gilbert, the eldest son, wishes he could leave, but he has to stay in order to help take care of his developmentally disabled brother Arnie, who has a tendency to climb extremely tall structures, and his mother, who is the town joke because she's grotesquely obese and never moves from her couch in front of the TV. He falls for Becky, a quirky but charming girl who travels all over the country with her grandmother. That's it, really. There are no big car chases or explosions or gun battles. There's not even a whole lot of romance. I like it anyway. It's a small, character-driven movie, which is the kind of movie I find myself enjoying more and more. Depp is very likeable as Gilbert, Juliette Lewis is surprisingly non-irritating, DiCaprio is utterly convincing (he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, ya know), and Darlene Cates, in her first-ever acting gig, is an awe-inspiring revelation. Hell, the scene where she gets off the couch to go to the county courthouse -- no, no, that would be telling too much.

Go rent it. Ladies, you can at least claim it's a romance and it's got that guy from "21 Jump Street." Guys, you should rent it, too, but you'll just have to wait for a non-beer night when all the usual moochers are safely hungover at home.

Research from the Internet Movie Database ( and from actually watching the movie

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