I liked this film, not for Leonardo DiCaprio's now infamous star starting portrayal of Arnie, but for the tone it set. The angst and frustration Gilbert Grape feels is palpable. I'd compare it with Robert Sean Leonard's from Dead Poets Society. You can see and feel how deeply those characters felt trapped by familial obligation. And, I liked the fact that for once someone obese was shown in a movie. Not a freak show but as a human with a family. I felt it was about time. I like movies that represent a vast array of people.
Spoiler alert** It was a sad film, I genuinely felt bad when they burned down the house. Johnny Depp, as Gilbert Grape gives a great performance and is the reason I enjoyed this film. It's not an above average film, I wasn't particularly moved by Arnie, or Mama for that matter, more of Depp's angsty goodness. But, like a lot of the my-life-blows movies, it only does so much for me. I didn't leave the film feeling like I gained a new emotion, or had a blast or learned something about human nature I didn't already know. It was just a lot of "life blows, oh wait - there's a girl in my life so now everything is better...the end" This would be an interesting double feature with Garden State I think.
I could be wrong. Just my humble opinion