Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Benny and Joon

Benny and Joon
Starring:
Aidan Quinn, Mary Stuart Masterson and Johnny Depp


Rated: PG 
Reviewed by: Frank and Chris  
Release date: April 16, 1993 Released by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.

Director Jeremiah Chechik treats his eccentric characters with dignity, humor and joy in one of the best films this year.

Benny (Aidan Quinn), auto mechanic older brother to Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson), masks his own fear of change by keeping her near and limiting her contact with the outside world. He is gentle and concerned by Joon, who suffers from a mental illness, begins to reach for greater freedom when she meets Sam (Johnny Depp). Sam fancies himself as Buster Keaton, but his character is far more like Chaplin's Little Tramp both in look and action.

Depp is a delight to watch as he performs his antics, some copied directly from Chaplin, others unique for Joon. In Edward Scissorhands he was effective but the script failed to produce the mystical expectations necessary for a fantasy. Here he is perfect as is the script, which doesn't grab and strike; rather, it slowly moves from the mind to the heart.

Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes) voyages from a gentle childlike sister to an angry dark artist. When she begins to fall in love with Sam, Benny acts as a protective parent, forces the two to separate and creates climactic change.

Joon's mental health improves but she doesn't end up perfect; it gets a little better and that may be good enough. This is a warm, friendly trip through the lives of Benny & Joon which will stay in your mind and rest in your heart.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Benny and Joon  B+   B+                     B+ 

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