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Grand Canyon

Theatrical Release Poster
Directed by Lawrence Kasdan
Produced by Michael Grillo
Lawrence Kasdan
Charles Okun
Written by Lawrence Kasdan
Meg Kasdan
Starring Danny Glover
Steve Martin
Kevin Kline
Mary McDonnell
Mary-Louise Parker
Alfre Woodard
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Owen Roizman
Editing by Carol Littleton
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) 25 December 1991 (U.S. limited)
10 January 1992 (U.S. wide)
16 April 1992 (Australia)
Running time 134 min.
Language English

Grand Canyon is a 1991 American drama feature film directed and co-written by Lawrence Kasdan and featuring an ensemble cast. It was advertised as "the Big Chill for the '90s", in reference to an earlier Kasdan film.



An immigration lawyer named Mac finds himself at the mercy of potential muggers when his car breaks down in a bad part of town late at night. The muggers are talked out of victimizing Mac by Simon, a tow-truck driver who arrives just in time. After that night Mac sets out to befriend Simon, despite their having nothing in common. Mac seems unaware that his desire to befriend Simon is actually a form of mid-life crisis, mixed with racial guilt that he is well-off while Simon is struggling financially.

Meanwhile, Mac's wife Claire and best friend Davis are also experiencing life-changing events, when she encounters an abandoned infant as she is jogging and becomes determined to adopt it, he after getting shot in the leg by a man trying to steal his watch. A producer of violent action films, Davis suddenly becomes interested in philosophy more than box-office profits, and announces that he will devote the remainder of his career to eliminating violence from the cinema.

The film chronicles how these characters – as well as various acquaintances, co-workers, and relatives – are affected by their interactions in light of these life-changing events. In the end, all the characters converge at the Grand Canyon on a shared vacation trip, united in a place that's philosophically and actually "bigger" than all their little separate lives.


Grand Canyon was met with generally positive reviews,[1] but was considered a minor failure at the box office,[2] and did not reap notable profits until it was released on video. Noted film critics Siskel and Ebert both loved the film, placing it at the #4 (Ebert) and #6 (Siskel) positions on their 1991 top ten lists.

The film won the Golden Bear of Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival.


Additional cast

  • Marlee Matlin plays an uncredited role; she is a mom using sign language to communicate with her child as several youths are being sent off to camp.
  • Randle Mell, real-life husband of Mary McDonnell, is a homeless man that Claire encounters while jogging.
  • Marley Shelton can be seen in one of her first roles as Roberto's girlfriend at camp.
  • Lawrence Kasdan plays an uncredited role; he is berating Davis for cutting out a "money shot" (a close-up of blood and brains hitting a window) from a particularly violent action scene in one of Davis' movies.

Production notes

  • Phil Collins' song "Both Sides of the Story" references the scene where the young mugger tells Simon that he carries a gun to make sure people respect (and fear) him.
  • Davis' character is based on aggressive action film producer Joel Silver.


  1. ^ Major reviewers gave it an average of 2.6705 out of 4, per accessed 2 November 2009
  2. ^ total box-office take for initial release was $32.3 million, per, accessed 2 November 2009


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