Grand Canyon (1991 film)

Grand Canyon is a 1991 drama 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 one of Kasdan's earlier successes.


The story is set in motion when a successful immigration lawyer named Mac (Kevin Kline) finds himself at the mercy of potential muggers when his car breaks down in a bad part of town. The muggers are talked out of victimizing Mac by Simon (Danny Glover), a tow-truck driver who arrives in time to save Mac's life. Mac sets out to befriend Simon, despite the fact that they have 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 (Mary McDonnell), and best friend Davis (Steve Martin), 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, but was considered a minor failure at the box office, 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.


In the scene where the parents are sending their kids off to camp, the parent who is using sign language to communicate with her kid is played by a uncredited Marlee Matlin.

Randle Mell, who plays the frightening homeless man Claire encounters during her jog, is Mary McDonnell's real-life husband.

Marley Shelton can be seen in one of her first roles as Roberto's girlfriend at camp.

Phil Collins' song "Both Sides of the Story" references the film, specifically the young mugger defiantly telling 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.

Writer-director Lawrence Kasdan cameos as one of Davis' colleagues, who is berated for cutting out "the money shot" (a close-up of blood and brains hitting a window) of a violent action sequence.

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