21 October 2013

Benny and Joon

Benny and Joon 1993
  • Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik
  • Based on book: by Peter Hedges
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn, Julianne Moore, Oliver Platt, CCH Pounder, Dan Hedaya, William H. Macy
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Johnny Depp  Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Slow Burn, Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilber Grape, Arizona Dream, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Dead Man, Nick of Time, Donnie Brasco, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Ninth Gate, The Astronaut’s Wife, Sleepy Hollow, The Man Who Cried, Chocolat, Blow, From Hell, Lost in La Mancha, Pirates of the Caribbean (all four of them), Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Secret Window, Finding Neverland, Libertine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, The Tourist
    • Mary Stuart Masterson  Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, The Stepford Wives
    • Aidan Quinn  Sarah’s Key, Music of the Heart, Practical Magic, Looking for Richard, The Stars Fell on Henrietta, Frankenstein, Desperately Seeking Susan
    • Julianne Moore  – The Kids are All Right, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, I’m Not There, Children of Men, The Forgotten, The Hours, Far From Heaven, The Shipping News, A Map of the World, The Big Lebowski, Boogie Night, Jurassic Park, Surviving Picasso, Safe, The Fugitive
    • Oliver Platt – 2012, Frost/Nixon,
    • CCH Pounder – Avatar, The Number One Ladies Detective Bureau, Face/Off, RoboCop 3, Postcards from the Edge, Baghdad Café, Prizzi’s Honor
    • Dan Hedaya – Alien Resurrection, A Life Less Ordinary, The First Wives Club, Clueless, The Usual Suspects, Slow Burn, Joe and the Volcano, Hill Street Blues
    • William H. Macy – The Cooler, State and Main, Happy Texas, Pleasantville, Boogie Nights, Fargo, The Client
  • Why? Johnny Depp. Eighth movie of JD marathon (slightly out of chronological order, maybe).
  • Seen: About five times. Most recently February 13, 2009 and February 15, 2009 in French to practice my French.  Now: October 18, 2013.


      The dancing bread rolls capture the whimsy of this film. Maltin calls it a fable. Good description.  None of it feels real; it’s an unlikely story with unlikely characters. It’s almost as much a fairy tale as Edward Scissorhands, but with a happy (sort of) ending.  In fact the story bothers me just a little.  Mental illness is not whimsical and it can’t be cured by love, not even the love of Johnny Depp. Well, it isn’t here either, really. but the ending is hopeful because of love. Fair enough.
       It’s a sweet story and a sweet film populated by many of my acting favorites. Aidan Quinn and Julianne Moore have played a lot of roles more suited to their skills but it’s nice to see them here. Mary Stuart Masterson is a bit pale, both literally and figuratively but she has a bit of bite to her at times and she’s sadly convincing in her breakdown on the bus.
       The whole film, however, is Johnny Depp’s. He’s not actually in it all that much and as is often the case he doesn’t say a whole lot but it’s his endearing, gentle, tentative out-of-it-ness and nerdy passion for mime and old movies and unorthodox housekeeping that carry the whole thing.
       It’s a film to love in spite of its flaws.


4* of 5

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