Benny & Joon

1993

Benny & Joon

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

71%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 34

85%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 143,443
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Movie Info

Johnny Depp was nominated for a Golden Globe for his astonishing performance in Benny & Joon, though the entire cast is equally impressive. Benny (Aidan Quinn) runs a small car repair shop. He must also take care of his mentally ill sister Juniper, better known as Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson). After losing a bet, Benny is forced to bring another eccentric into his house: Sam (Johnny Depp), the cousin of a friend. Not inclined to conversation, Sam expresses himself by performing Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton routines (and brilliantly!) Not surprisingly, he immediately hits it off with Joon. As Sam and Joon fall deeper in love, Benny for the first time in life experiences the pangs of jealousy. As can be gathered by this synopsis, Benny and Joon may not strike responsive chord with everyone; those who like the film, however, are almost militant in their devotion. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Benny & Joon

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (10)

  • Inconsequential as it is, Benny & Joon is that rare thing, a crazy-versus-sane movie that likes one kind as much as the other.

    Nov 7, 2018 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • There's something vaguely unsettling about ''Benny & Joon,'' a film that's billed innocuously as a ''charming, offbeat comedy'' that actually is about a woman suffering from mental illness.

    Jun 12, 2018 | Full Review…
  • This fierce, smart jape gets you shaking with laughter, then leaves you simply shaking.

    Feb 13, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • As the outsider who courts the mentally ill Mary Stuart Masterson, Johnny Depp renders a startling performance that elevates the romantic fable way above its writing and directing shortcomings; look for the young Julianne Moore in a small part.

    Apr 8, 2006 | Rating: 3/5

    Emanuel Levy

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • It's acted out in the secondary emotional register of the glass menagerie: whimsical, delicate, idiosyncratic, barmy.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Wally Hammond

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Mr. Depp may look nothing like Buster Keaton, but there are times when he genuinely seems to become the Great Stone Face, bringing Keaton's mannerisms sweetly and magically to life.

    May 20, 2003

Audience Reviews for Benny & Joon

  • Jul 31, 2013
    A quirky romantic comedy, Benny & Joon is an entertaining film with heart. When a mentally ill young woman falls in love with an eccentric vagabond, it threatens to tear her family apart. Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson lead the cast and have remarkably good chemistry. Depp in particular gives a wonderful performance that's quite charming. At times the plot's a bit formulaic and predictable, but there's a sincerity to the characters that comes through. Additionally, the soundtrack is outstanding, and perfectly captures the moods and tones of the film. While there are some weaknesses, Benny & Joon is a delightful comedy that's a lot of fun.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 08, 2013
    This is a sweet and charming movie to a fault but it rises above the pack thanks to the leads and their endearing performances in a film that has sort of a magical side to it in the way it tells its story. As much as I enjoyed Johnny Depp's performance and how charming he is, I think Mary Stuart Masterson steals the show with her performance, because she brings respect and depth to her character instead of, quoting Tropic Thunder, going full-on retard. But Johnny does add the magical touch to the romance. I think the film does have a good story in Benny being so overprotective of Joon has caused both of their lives to stop dead in their tracks. Benny is socially awkward and Joon has anger problems. It's understandable that Benny would be as protective of Joon as he is, considering what they went through as kids. So that adds a little depth to the story. I do think that the film probably isn't as funny as it could be, but the writing and the acting overcome those issues. As mentioned the movie can be sweet to a fault, but I didn't mind it. Anyway this is a damn good movie with an excellent cast and great writing so I would definitely recommend it.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 28, 2012
    I had a lot of reservations about this going in, mostly because I was concerned that placing a mentally ill character at the center of a quirky romantic comedy would be offensive. Just the opposite is true. Masterson's character is handled appropriately, she is neither the butt of the jokes nor is she some magical source of childlike wisdom. The romance between her and Depp is believable and far more touching than I anticipated. Aidan Quinn is great as well and proves to be a strong, emotional core to the film. On the whole its sweet, but it never feels forced or undeserved. I'm not one who tends to embrace sentimental films and stories, but dammit this won me over.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 03, 2011
    "She's got electric boots, a mohair suit; you know I read it in a magazine. Bu-bu-bu-Benny and Joon." Wait, so Johnny Depp's character, Sam, isn't even in the title, and yet he's advertized as the only star, and is slapped on some of the posters like he really is the only star in the film. Poor Aidan Quinn and Mary Masterson; they probably needed that publicity to breakout, because I can't even remember the last time Aidan Quinn had a hit, and I can't even remember Mary Stuart Masterson... at all. Well, maybe Depp needed the publicity even more, because he's having a tough time finding work now, let alone back in 1993, and lord knows Tim Burton and his "Fredward Clipperfeet" or whatever wasn't gonna help him get some cheese. Wow, I can't even type that with a straight face; probably because I'm so embarassed at how thrown-together my opening joke is. Oh well, at least it's not as forced as this segwa-I mean, most everything in this film. The problem with the film is that it feels just so thrown-together, and unsubtley so at that. Every small hole in any kind of development or building of comradery is forced through throw-away scene and repetition, not giving you a chance to invest yourself and let an understanding of everything flow naturally to you. This film emits a constant tone that can best be compared to obvious foreshadows to an event later on the film, in that everything feels so forced and unsubtle. This problem is at its worse during the development segment, which consists of random, just barely significant sequences with little, if any transitions. Now, I know that I'm making it seems as though it's all the fault of the writers, but really, this type of writing is perfectly acceptable, but director Jeremiah S. Chechik's storytelling has little effort and smoothness behind it, not only causing the film to run together, but to be rendered rather slow. These elements aren't quite the makings of a bad film, or even a terribly mediocre one, but they are the makings of a forgettable film. However, there's plenty more to this film that makes it memorable, and that is simply one thing, and one thing only: quirkiness. The thing about this film is that it is really cheesy, but in just the right way, being charmingly quirky. Still, the charm wouldn't be nearly as effective without the performers carrying it, from the charismatic straightman Aidan Quinn, to the rather compelling Mary Stuart Masterson, who portrays the Joon character's subtle, but still concerning mental illness with subtlety and grace, yet still with plenty of effectiveness. Still, it's Johnny Depp who stands out the most, once again bringing his usual bag of quirky tricks, but with some sharp twists here and there. The Sam character is a mysterious one, with little development and little dimension, and Depp really taps into what he can and milks the charm in our lead for all its worth by effortlessly portraying this person who always aims to please, by really showing off his moves and skills that we would have never expected him to have. Whether he's mashing potatoes with a tennis racket, or kicking his hat around in the park like Buster Keaton, Depp is constantly wowing you with new and unexpected talents. If there is any subtlety in the film, then it's in Depp's performance, because you just can't tell who is, or what his next move will be. Eitherway, he keeps the film going, not just with his impressive performance, but with his sharp chemistry with his also quite impressive fellow leads. Ultimately, the lack of effort put into storytelling causes the film to limp along in tone and run along together, but instead of just falling out of your head before you even finish watching it - like most films as imperfect as this would -, the film impresses with the sharp chemistry and talent behind the leads, particularly Johnny Depp, who's unpredictable quirks that always boast predictable wow-factor make "Benny & Joon" a consistently enjoyable charmer. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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