What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Critics Consensus

It's sentimental and somewhat predictable, but those are small complaints, given the tender atmosphere and moving performances at the heart of What's Eating Gilbert Grape.



Total Count: 49


Audience Score

User Ratings: 301,543
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Movie Info

Gilbert has to care for his brother Arnie and his obese mother, which gets in the way when love walks into his life.


Johnny Depp
as Gilbert Grape
Leonardo DiCaprio
as Arnie Grape
Mary Steenburgen
as Betty Carver
Kevin Tighe
as Mr. Carver
John C. Reilly
as Tucker Van Dyke
Crispin Glover
as Bobby McBurney
Penelope Branning
as Becky's Grandma
Tim Green
as Mr. Lamson
Susan Loughran
as Mrs. Lamson
Mark Jordan
as Todd Carver
Libby Villari
as Waitress
Cameron Finley
as Doug Carver
Joe Stevens
as Burger Barn manager
Brady Coleman
as Sheriff Farrel
Tim Simek
as Deputy
Mona Lee Fultz
as Bakery Worker
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Critic Reviews for What's Eating Gilbert Grape

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (44) | Rotten (5)

  • Despite Depp's tender melancholy, the performers who stay with you are those who dare to crack the surface of their characters' alienation.

    Nov 7, 2018 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • Depp is subtly winning as a man-child oblivious to his own pent-up rage. But the performance that will take your breath away is DiCaprio's.

    Mar 13, 2015 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • Even if you have a taste as I do for movies about dysfunctional families, you may be a little put off by the Grapes.

    Feb 8, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Suggests that the true heroes are those people who day by day must tend to misfits, and do so with love, tenacity and a determination not to go terminally sour in the process.

    Jun 19, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Hallström's finally struck a chord with the Americans, though it's much the same cocktail of whimsy and worry, the eccentric and the banal, that he's been mixing all along.

    Feb 11, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Particularly impressive are the sweet, weirdly idyllic tone of Mr. Hallstrom's direction and Johnny Depp's tender, disarming performance as the long-suffering Gilbert Grape.

    May 20, 2003

Audience Reviews for What's Eating Gilbert Grape

  • Nov 16, 2018
    This has always been one of my favorite movies, such a great cast. The writing is also very good, heartwarming family story. Everyone should see this film, we all long to get away sometimes like Gilbert did.
    Super Reviewer
  • May 29, 2016
    This coming-of-age movie stars Johnny Depp in the titular role, and he does fantastic work. However, the real story here is the performance given by Leonardo DiCaprio. Playing a young adult with mental illness, DiCaprio managed to pull off a wonderful performance without being offensive or watered-down. The subtle music really fit in well with the small-town feel. There were a few conveniences in the storyline, namely with the Carver family, but it didn't take away from the effect of the film overall. As far as feel-good movies go, this is one of the better examples; a bittersweet happy ending can have a lasting touch, and What's Eating Gilbert Grape has clearly impacted viewers to have such a following today.
    Ben B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 14, 2016
    It's hard to believe that Leonardo DiCaprio has still not won an Oscar to this day. His performance in this at just twenty years old is superb. Sadly, his history of Oscar subs started here. Superb.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 11, 2015
    A slice of life film about a small town family struggling to make it years after a family tragedy (the suicide of Gilbert Grape's father). Gilbert is played by Johnny Depp in his (in my opinion) best performance of his career. Depp was reportedly struggling with personal issues of his own during filming, and he certainly seems to use that despair in his performance. A tremendous cast, including a then unknown John C. Reilly, a young and incredible Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, and many relatively unknown others who give this movie tremendous depth. Everywhere you look there are talented actors adding color to this movie and almost every scene is affecting. It's a toss up between DiCaprio's performance as a boy with special needs, and Darlene Cates, a morbidly obese woman who had never acted before in her life for finest performance in this movie. Depp is excellent, but DiCaprio is a revelation and Cates is painfully honest and brave. This movie feels more like what real-life feels like than most Hollywood films have achieved. There are funny moments, tender moments and sad, lonely and desperate moments. Life can be very hard, with responsibilities and relationships to manage, and this movie captures that struggle and makes it compelling. Despite mostly positive reviews, this film remains underrated and is quickly becoming a forgotten masterpiece.
    Mark H Super Reviewer

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