Picks and Pans Review: What's Eating Gilbert Grape

updated 01/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio

This precious and preciously tided movie follows the American-gothic-gone-rancid adventures of the dysfunctional Grape clan. Its members include Gilbert (Depp, his hair dyed a preternatural red), a grocery clerk who's the family provider; his 500-pound mother (Darlene Gates), who hasn't left the house since her husband killed himself seven years ago; Gilbert's retarded young brother (DiCaprio), whose passion is trying to scale the local water lower; and two sisters (Laura Harrington and Mary Kate Schellhardt) who spend their days pretending everything's okay.

Enter the free-spirited Lewis, whose camper breaks down outside of town. Though given to banalities such as "I love the sky—it's so limitless," she stirs up feelings in Depp, including a profound longing to ditch his family and hightail it out of his one-horse Iowa hamlet.

This is all a little too studiously grotesque, and it goes on for too long. (PG-13)

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