D’ya like quirky?
If you like quirky, then you’ll probably like Benny & Joon. It’s all about the quirk.
The movie centres on Benny (Aidan Quinn) and his younger sister Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson). Their parents died in an accident when Benny and Joon were quite young and, although the details are left vague, Benny has become Joon’s guardian/caretaker due to her mental illness. Into their lives comes Sam (Johnny Depp), an eccentric Buster Keaton fan with his own unique way of interacting with the world.
And just how does Sam come into their lives?
Joon wins him in a poker game.
Thus enters the quirk.
Benny has a weekly poker game with friends. Instead of money, they wager random things of various degrees of usefulness – my personal favourite is, ‘soap on a rope, slightly used.’ One of the friends has recently been saddled with his cousin, Sam, who ends up in the pot during a hand where Joon is playing and Benny is absent. Joon loses, and, although Benny isn’t happy about it, Sam comes home with them.
Sam ends up being a welcome addition, taking care of the house and watching out for Joon while Benny’s at work. Everything he does is peculiar – cleaning while rolling around the house on a wheeled stool, making grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron, reenacting silent movie routines, reciting dialogue along with movies.
Eventually, Sam and Joon fall in love and, while at first Benny’s no happier about that than he was about Sam coming to stay with them in the first place, in the long run, it all works out for the best, and everybody gets their happy ending.
It’s a sweet movie, I suppose. Personally, sweet isn’t really my style, and I do find all the quirkiness gets a bit grating, so I don’t watch it very often. But if you do like sweet, and quirky, and – based on the number of women my age I know who go all aflutter at the mere mention of the movie – a young Johnny Depp, it’s worth a watch.