Johnny Depp received his second Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for his ingratiating performance as Sam, the eccentric, vulnerable, and thoroughly sweet outcast who falls for Mary Stuart Masterson's equally fragile and probably schizophrenic Joon in 1993's BENNY & JOON. The directing debut of Jeremiah Chechik, this quirky, original romantic comedy makes good use of its Spokane locations and buoyant Rachel Portman score, and gives plenty of room for its outstanding cast to shine. The film draws strength not only from the genuine romance between Sam and Joon but also from its sensitive exploration of family responsibility and friendship, as Joon's overprotective elder brother Benny (played by Aidan Quinn) struggles to balance his role as Joon's guardian with his desire for a life of his own--one that could include the charming, warm-hearted waitress Ruthie (played by Julianne Moore).
"The movie suggests that love and magic can overcome madness, and [. . . m]uch of the credit for that goes to Depp, who takes a character that might have seemed unplayable on paper, and makes him into the kind of character who might be able to heal Joon," writes critic Roger Ebert. Johnny Depp did his own stunts in the film, including impeccable versions of classic comedy routines created by silent film masters Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Now nearly twenty years old, this offbeat comedy remains as fresh and touching as it was when it first reached the screen. Like the jack-in-the-box that Sam gives to Joon, BENNY & JOON possesses a timeless ability to surprise and delight.
The BENNY & JOON gallery is a communal effort; many Zone members graciously contributed scans, screencaps, and photographs. We extend our thanks to AnaMaria, Chocolat, Joni, Sleepy, Endora, and Theresa.