Owen Gleiberman
January 21, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
performer
Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Darlene Cates, Crispin Glover, Juliette Lewis, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen
director
Lasse Hallstrom

We gave it a B-

Once again (after ”Edward Scissorhands” and ”Benny & Joon”), Johnny Depp seems to be trying to reach a state of complete emotional passivity on screen in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. His Gilbert is the wayward elder son in a family of unhappy weirdos. Director Lasse Hallstrom has made a comedy as gossamer as a butterfly’s wings, one that stares at its characters with ironic affection. Yet, like its poker-faced hero, the movie stares a little too much. ”Gilbert Grape” is sweet and occasionally touching but also wan and distant. It tweaks your sympathies without ever firing your endorphins.

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