Rain Man (1988)


Love that poster
Love that poster

Genre: Drama

Starring: Tom Cruise (Magnolia • Top Gun),  Dustin Hoffman (Kramer vs. KramerStraw Dogs)

Directed By: Barry Levinson (The NaturalGood Morning, Vietnam)

Overview: Charlie, a luxury car dealer, is trying to keep his failing business afloat when his estranged father dies. When Charlie finds out that the $3 million estate was bequeathed to someone else, he learns that he has an autistic savant brother.

Rain Man is a movie that takes me back to childhood – childhood enough to know that I was growing up and I could fully grasp all the things that a movie was conveying to me. Rain Man conveyed an original character and a tight story. It was also a time when Tom Cruise hadn’t jumped the rails and gone all lightning-bolt, space-crazy Scientology.

The story is quite simple. Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is a luxury car dealer with a business in trouble when he learns that his estranged father has passed away. During the reading of the will, Charlie inherits a car he was never allowed to drive in his youth, as well as some prize-winning rosebushes. The rest of the $3-million estate, however, is in trust to an unnamed benefactor. Charlie has no idea who this other person might be. His investigation leads him to a mental care institute. There Charlie discovers the estate’s benefactor is Raymond, an autistic savant brother (Dustin Hoffman) he never knew he had. He leaves for L.A. with Raymond with plans to trade him back to the institute for half of his father’s estate. Of course Raymond won’t get on a plane, so the two of them have to drive across the country – and the bonding begins.

It's all cause of Quantas.
It's all cause of Quantas.

For those of you who don’t know Rain Man, it’s really not a touching story of a kidnapping tale gone to a warm Stockholm Syndrome place. Charlie’s not a bad guy, he’s just a selfish prick. He’s blameless, smug and proud and Tom Cruise plays him exceptionally well - just as well as when he played the smug and proud Jerry Maguire, the smug and proud Maverick in Top Gun, or the smug and proud Frank T.J. Mackey in MagnoliaDustin Hoffman, on the other hand, has in Rain Man one of his most famous roles and with good reason. His character is immediately enchanting, entertain and compelling. The way Dustin and Tom exchange their lines is downright Coen-grade perfection. The script is peerless and the delivery is truly memorable.

 Scenes that stand out in particular include Charlie and Raymond’s introduction, where Charlie finds a stranger sitting in his car. Charlie kicks him out and Ray replies, “Dad lets me drive every Saturday. Of course, the seats were originally brown leather… Now they're pitiful red. It's a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. Straight-Eight. Fireball Eight. Only 8,095 production models. Dad lets me drive on the driveway, but not on Monday. Definitely not on Monday.” He proceeds to rattle off stats about his father and mother. Another wonderful moment has Ray walking into a sex scene in Charlie’s bedroom to investigate the strange noises and repeating the sounds he hears. Then of course there’s the ever-classic casino scene where Ray uses his gifts to win big.

Rain Man is the kind of movie you watch with your mother. It’s the kind of movie you have on in the background when you’re doing something productive but you need a distraction. Rain Man is the kind of movie that the Academy loves. I can safely say that because they gave it the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman) Best Director and Best Screenplay. It’s accomplished. It’s cinema for the masses. And it’s fun.

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 8 Script: 10 Plot: 8 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 86% (Let It Come Down)

One new thing I learned after this recent viewing is that the EPA is the antagonist of Rain Man.

“This fuckin' E.P.A.! The whole world is chokin' on smog... and they're gonna correct the situation by keeping my four cars off the road?”

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