Intro to Special Education
“Benny and Joon”
"Benny and Joon" is a movie full of cute eccentrics, characters whose quirks are the very essence of their appeal. This movie tells of a sweet, long-suffering mechanic named Benny (Aidan Quinn) who struggles to take care of his erratic sister, Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson) who has a mental illness that is never explained. Their home life is further complicated midway through the film by the arrival of Sam (Johnny Depp) who is as far from contemporary reality as Joon happens to be. Joon winds up with Sam because of a losing bet in a poker game. Sam is seen happily making grilled-cheese sandwiches on an ironing board and mashing potatoes with a tennis racket, actions that deeply appeal to Benny and Joon's collective sense of the abstract. Joon, who loves to paint but also likes to set fires, has initially seemed smart, unpredictable and scarily intense. She's capable of placing an emergency call to her brother's repair shop to report a food shortage, and the messages are often as alarming as she means them to be. She's also capable of breaking a lamp or dropping a burning tissue on the floor for no particular reason, which makes Benny's life with her a constant trial. The story finds them at the point of realizing that each must somehow separate from the other and go it alone. Meanwhile, Joon and Sam discover to their gradual delight that they see the world in much the same way. They become close enough to engage in passionate discussions of common interests, like the suspicious fate of raisins. But since Sam is functionally illiterate, not even able to fill out a job application in a video store that rents his beloved Chaplin and Keaton films, the possibility of either his or Joon's being able to survive independently remains dim. Throughout this whole movie, I kept asking myself what “illness” did Joon have, and why was it never revealed? And also, does Sam have any “glitches” too, or is he just...
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