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Headscratchers / What's Eating Gilbert Grape

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  • That town really needs to put a lock on the ladder of it's water tower. If it's that easy for an mentally handicapped teen to get up it, it's hardly his family's fault.
    • YMMV, with some older water towers, the most that can be done short of 24 hour guard is have a fence. It's not like there's a door to lock the ladder behind, and to a person as mentally handicapped as Arnie, signs for security systems and cameras mean little to nothing. With the central location of the water tower, a loud alarm would be a nuisance. Their town doesn't seem to have much going for it, like the kind of place that, if it wasn't for Arnie and his poor impulse control towards climbing the water tower, anything other than a normal chain link fence would be excessive.
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    • Well, if they put up a chain-link fence, Arnie still would have climbed it (or sorted out how), however, the implication is that Arnie tends to be supervised enough on most occasions (from what I got, he tends to climb the water tower when he's actually left alone long enough to do it).
  • In the film's opening monologue, Gilbert says that his youngest sister Ellen just turned fifteen. Yet four sentences later, he states his father died seventeen years ago. So who's Ellen's dad?
    • The book states that Ellen just turned sixteen, so this is a flub on the part of the screenwriter, either by pure accident or because he changed the character's age to reflect the then-current age of her actress. (Though considering the book's author wrote the screenplay, you'd think that he of all people would have noticed.)
      • That and their dad didn't die seventeen years ago, he died seven years ago.
      • Both the film and the novel say seventeen years. In the film, it's Momma who hasn't left the house in seven years (implying that she didn't become a shut-in immediately after the death of her husband, but after she became so big that she was too immobile or too ashamed to leave).

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