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Word Count: 868
In the small but eventful world of Gilbert Grape emergencies are a natural state His younger brother Arnie has a way of climbing the town water tower and forgetting how to get back down His mother who weighs 500 pounds spends days at a time just sitting on the sofa His best friend Bobby is an apprentice at his dads funeral parlor and loves to talk about the tricks of the trade His boss who runs the local grocery store is under threat from the big new supermarket on the edge of town which has live lobsters in a tank - something the folks in Endora Iowa Pop 1091 cant stop talking about Gilbert Grape is more or less equal to these challenges but life is not easy for him What helps is the small town itself In a big city we sense the Grape family would be isolated and dysfunctional but in Endora where everybody knows everybody and Gilbert fits right in life is more possible and the family is at least quasifunctional Whats Eating Gilbert Grape makes of these materials one of the most enchanting movies of the year a story of people who arent misfits only because they dont see themselves that way Nor does the film take them with tragic seriousness it is a problem yes to have a retarded younger brother And it is a problem to have a mother so fat she never leaves the house But when kids from the neighborhood sneak around to peek at the fat lady in the living room Gilbert sometimes gives them a boost up to the window What the hell The movie written by Peter Hedges and based on his novel has been directed by a Scandinavian Lasse Hallstrom for whom families seem to exert a special pull His credits include My Life as a Dog 1985 about a young boys coming of age amid eccentric Swedish rural
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