'Benny & Joon' [Blu-ray]
(Johnny Depp, Aidan Quinn, et al / DVD / PG-13 / (1993) 2011 / MGM)
Overview: Oscar® Nominee Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson (TV’s Law & Order SVU ) and Aidan Quinn (Practical Magic) star in this hilarious, quirky comedy. Wildly eccentric Joon (Masterson) can be very charming — especially when she takes her medicine. Long under the thumb of her overprotective brother, Benny (Quinn), Joon craves her independence. During an unusual poker game, Joon loses her hand — but wins Sam (Depp), a whimsical misfit who soon charms his way into her heart.
DVD Verdict: Benny (Aidan Quinn) is a mechanic who, since the death of their parents, has been the caretaker for his schizophrenic sister Joon (Mary Stewart Masterson), a job that has become increasingly difficult. They are obliged to take in the quirky Sam (Johnny Depp), and love blossoms between the two soulful oddballs.
For this movie to work, you have to love these relentlessly eccentric characters, and, unfortunately, I couldn't love them enough. The horrendous pitfalls that go along with mental illness are shown just enough to provide some complications in the narrative, but the filmmakers clearly had their sights set on a happy ending right from the beginning, and they were going to let nothing get in the way.
There are some egregious lapses in logic that are required to make this story go in the direction the filmmakers want. For example, there is serious debate about whether Joon would be better off living in a group home (where she would have constant supervision) or in her own apartment (where she would be mostly unsupervised, even though there would be a friend living in the same building). These choices are opposite ends of a spectrum, not roughly equivalent alternatives that a responsible mental health professional would present to a harried caretaker.
There are pleasures to be found here, mostly notably Johnny Depp's extraordinary performance, but you have to be charmed into forgetting the real world first. Indeed, Depp is a wonderful character actor, with such a wide range of ability. This is, hands down, the best movie he has ever made. I loved him as Capt. Jack Sparrow, and he was fantastic in The Secret Window, as well as his many other roles, but he is just phenomenal as Sam, a quirky young man who falls in love with a mentally ill young woman. He brought such warmth and humor to the role. I can't see anyone else playing Sam. This is a Widescreen presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary - Featuring director Jeremiah Chechik
Deleted Scenes - (5:12)
Costume, Make-Up Test and Stunt Reel
Music Video - (3:40) Featuring the music video 'I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)' by The Proclaimers