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I had seen this movie quite a while back and could not remember much about it. Due to my lack of recalling the movie more than the general plot, I was afraid that meant the movie was not “good enough to remember.” Quite the contrary, as with almost any Johnny Depp movie I have seen, the portrayal of the characters brings about an enjoyable quality to the movie. Do not get me wrong, the plot is predictable and the script is less than great, but the everything is just so “cute” that you end up smiling and enjoying yourself why you watch.
Before you think that the movie is the greatest thing I have seen in my 28+ years on earth, there is one thing that truly upset me about the movie — no, not the intro credits using The Proclaimers “500 Miles (I’m Gonna Be). The biggest concern I had with the movie was the often lighthearted and overall weak portrayal of mental illness. To think that someone that is mentally ill and has a history of self endangerment would be allowed to so freely decide on their living situation is less than believable. To think they would be allowed to do so with a socially inept person is pretty much preposterousness. I understand that the point was to show that a person with a learning disability (Juniper “Joon” played by Mary Stuart Masterson) could teach her seemingly smarter brother Benny (played by Aidan Quinn) a thing or two about life while a social outcast teaches them both about “finding your place in society.” It’s cute but not really feasible.
Another problem with the movie is the rather odd collection of scenes that really do nothing to move the movie forward. For instance why do we need to see a flashback to when Benny and Joon’s parents presumably died in a car accident, why do we need to see the movie scene in which Benny’s love interest, Ruthie (played by Julianne Moore) was in during her brief stint as an actress, and what does William H Macy’s character have to do with anything? These scenes and a few more seem to have no bearing on the movie and seem to be there solely to slow the inevitable happy ending from happening sooner. Of course as the movie is from the early 90′s there also are plenty of bad cut scenes and montages that were far to popular. The scene where Benny is walking aimlessly through the train yard just screams 90′s crap-tastic directing but then again what do expect from Jeremiah S. Chechik (most notably the director of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation).
In general I would say the movie does deserve it’s somewhat “classic” title but more for being part of Johnny Depp’s early works (made right after “Edward Scissorhands” and right before “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”) and less for being a truly well written or directed film.
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Rating: (Based solely on the freshness of seeing Johnny Depp in his early years)