Romance. It's that thing women fantasize about, and men just sort of shrug their shoulders at, mistaking it for something called "sex." In 1994, New Line Cinema granted writer/director Jeremy Leven (who would go on to bring us The Legend of Bagger Vance and Real Steel) permission to film his own novella, Don Juan DeMarco and the Centerfold into a feature-length romantic dramedy film. And, just to sell the essence of romance and sex to both genders, he cast the one man that all women swoon over and men yearn to be like in the lead: a fat Marlon Brando. Oh, and some guy named Johnny Depp, too.
At this point in the late actor's life, Marlon Brando had ballooned out to morbidly-obese proportions that would have had Orson Welles shake his head with shame. Meanwhile, young Johnny Depp was beginning to finally crawl out of that eccentric outsider shell he and filmmakers like Tim Burton and Benny & Joon director Jeremiah S. Chechik had built for him; alas, his role in Don Juan DeMarco (as Don Juan DeMarco) is indeed that of another eccentric outsider — though one of the most mainstream eccentric outsiders he has ever played. And the reason for that is that his character is flat-out crazy.
Don Juan DeMarco is a young 21-year-old lad who dons an attire similar to that of Zorro's, and who fancies himself to be the legendary fictional lover, Don Juan. His own public attempt at suicide is hindered by a kindly old psychiatrist, Dr. Jack Mickler (Brando), who befriends the confused lad and convinces him to undergo ten days of psychiatric treatment at the mental hospital where he works. Mickler himself is only ten days away from retiring from the establishment — an institution that seems more than happy to just pump its patients full of drugs and release them after the trial period has ended.
Mickler, being a swell guy in general (in every respect), refuses to treat his final patient with drugs. Actually, he finds Don Juan to be a very enlightening character — one who not only has a great (unbelievable) tale to tell about his past, but whose apparent knowledge of the intricacies of everlasting romance intrigues the analyst, causing him to realize that his own sense of ardor for his wife (Faye Dunaway) may not be deceased as he has presumed it to be. With his feeling for feeling reinstated, Mickler not only begins to re-woo his spouse, but also starts to defy his superiors on how to treat Don Juan before the ten-day evaluation ends and the head doctors employ pills to "cure" the young nutter.