What's Eating Gilbert Grape (Disney) (1993)

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Released 7-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 113:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Lasse Hallström

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Johnny Depp
Leonardo DiCaprio
Juliette Lewis
Mary Steenburgen
Darlene Cates
Laura Harrington
Mary Kate Schellhardt
Kevin Tighe
John C. Reilly
Crispin Glover
Penelope Branning
Tim Green
Susan Loughran
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Joseph S. DeBeasi
Björn Isfält
Alan Parker

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     I have not read the novel of What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and perhaps, in this case, that's a good thing. Lasse Hallström is notorious as being something of a libertine when it comes to sticking accurately to the original source material when creating his films. Chocolat and The Shipping News are both good examples of the plot and character liberties he takes with his subject matter, although he would argue that as literature and cinema are two different media, it's all fair in love and film making. The fact that the novelist Peter Hedges was also the screenwriter doesn't guarantee accuracy - just ask John Irving, who collaborated with Hallström on Cider House Rules!

     But that having been said, I'm rather partial to Hallström's work, and this early example of his entry to mainstream American cinema is an utterly charming and beguiling piece. Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) is a young man in a small American town, and what's eating him is the all-consuming demands of his family upon his life. His little brother, Arnie (Leonardo Di Caprio) is severely mentally disabled, his mother Bonnie is grossly obese and agoraphobic, and the suicide of his father has left him a legacy of emotional anguish and alienation and a crumbling house in desperate need of repair. As the head of a disintegrated family, Gilbert is isolated from most members of community, with the exception of two buddies, the ever-present and ever-helpful Tucker (John C. Reilly) and the ambitious young undertaker-about-town, Bobby (Crispin Glover). Gilbert finds himself constantly affirming or rescuing the downtrodden, deluded or dissatisfied in his town, so when the annual migration of camper trailers brings with it a fresh and fascinating young woman (Juliette Lewis), the draw and desire to enjoy a life for himself on his own terms becomes powerfully magnetic.

     This film relies heavily on character performances fleshing out the subtle themes of family expectation, small town obsessions and battling past limitations. Beautifully filmed and directed, it depicts the enormity of coping with the smallness of life, and how claustrophobic one can feel under a big open sky. What's Eating Gilbert Grape marked early performances for Depp, Di Caprio, Lewis and Reilly, and they all show in their performances the strengths they would go on to display in abundance in other productions. Under Hallström's leadership, the film remains low key and deliberately underplayed, allowing the comic and the tragic to gently blend and present life with an authentic flavour. Di Caprio was deservedly lauded for his excellent performance of the disabled Arnie, but Depp's dignified and low key delivery was equally praiseworthy, as was the heartbreakingly honest portrayal by Darlene Cates as Bonnie.

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Transfer Quality


     This is not a bad transfer. It's not a great transfer, but it's not bad either.

     Presented in 16x9 enhanced 1.85:1, the transfer is presented in the original cinematic format.

     Whilst the vision is a tad soft overall, it is still of acceptable quality, with reasonable shadow detail and not too much low level noise. There are some distracting halations at around 70:10 and 86:14 but generally the grain is fine and the image is viewable.

     Occasionally the colour balance was not ideal, rendering rather pink skin tones in places, but for the most part the palette was clean and well defined, if somewhat muted.

     There was some incidents of aliasing, but they were not too flaring or distracting. Some film artefacts, like that at 8:10, occasionally blotted the visual landscape, but they were sufficiently rare to not interfere with the viewing experience.

     The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles were accurate and timely.

     This disc is dual layered. I could not detect a layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The disc comes with 5.1 English and Spanish soundtracks, of which I listened fully to the English, and briefly to the Spanish.

     Dialogue was clear and distinct throughout, and the audio sync presented no distractions whatever.

     The soundtrack was a subtle, low key affair - never melodramatic, and frequently quite lyrical and folky. It complemented the piece well and did not dominate.

     The surround presence was minimal, as was the subwoofer, with the main aural action coming from the front speakers. In this case, this did not detract at all from the presentation.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are no extras on this disc.


     16x9 non animated, silent and functional.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Both versions are equally good, and there is no compelling reason to prefer one over the other, though local access may be the deciding factor.


     It was a pleasure to revisit this film. The plot is rich and subtle, the performances are excellent, and the delivery is deft and accomplished. Presented on this acceptable disc, if you haven't seen this movie for a while, it may be time to reacquaint yourself with it.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Friday, December 05, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

Other Reviews NONE
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brilliant - Johnny Wadd (i am bionic)