Of Grapes and Nuts

Leonardo DiCaprio was virtually unknown when he garnered an Oscar nomination for portraying the developmentally disabled teen Arnie in 1993’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. It’s a testament to DiCaprio’s skill that viewers at the time wondered if this unfamiliar performer was really handicapped. Johnny Depp, fresh from interactions with another developmentally delayed character in Benny & Joon, plays Artie’s kindhearted, grocery-bagging brother, Gilbert. The Grapes live in small-town Iowa, occupying a house that’s custom-fit for their morbidly obese mother, Bonnie. Writer Peter Hedges jabs at her heft — when asked why the family doesn’t move, Gilbert says Bonnie is “wedged in.” But he doesn’t turn her into a punch line. In the movie’s most poignant scene, Gilbert declares that he “won’t let her be a joke.” The movie depicts genuine compassion, an uncommon virtue in quirky indie films about dysfunctional families. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape screens at 7 p.m. at Rockhurst’s Mabee Theater (1100 Rockhurst). Tickets cost $3. For more information, call 816-501-4607.

Wed., April 2, 7 p.m., 2008