Self-centered, avaricious Californian Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is informed that his long-estranged father has died. Expecting at least a portion of the elder Babbitt's $3 million estate, Charlie learns that all he's inherited is his dad's prize roses and a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. Discovering that the $3 million is being held in trust for an ...
Self-centered, avaricious Californian Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is informed that his long-estranged father has died. Expecting at least a portion of the elder Babbitt's $3 million estate, Charlie learns that all he's inherited is his dad's prize roses and a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. Discovering that the $3 million is being held in trust for an unidentified party, Charlie heads to his home town of Cincinnati to ascertain who that party is. It turns out that the beneficiary is Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman), the autistic-savant older brother that Charlie never knew he had. Able to memorize reams of trivia and add, subtract, multiply, and divide without a second's hesitation, Raymond is otherwise incapable of functioning as a normal human being. Aghast that Raymond is to receive his father's entire legacy, Charlie tries to cut a deal with Raymond's guardian. When this fails, Charlie "borrows" Raymond from the institution where he lives, hoping to use his brother as leverage to claim half the fortune. During their subsequent cross-country odyssey, Charlie is forced to accommodate Raymond's various autistic idiosyncracies, not the least of which is his insistence on adhering to a rigid daily schedule: he must, for example, watch People's Court and Jeopardy every day at the same time, no matter what. On hitting Las Vegas, Charlie hopes to harness Raymond's finely-honed mathematical skills to win big at the gaming tables; but this exploitation of his brother's affliction compels Charlie to reassess his own values, or lack thereof. A longtime pet project of star Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man was turned down by several high-profile directors before Barry Levinson took on the challenge of bringing Ronald Bass' screenplay to fruition (Levinson also appears in the film as a psychiatrist). All three men won Oscars, and the movie won Best Picture. Hal Erickson, Rovi
TITLE: Rain Man
GENRE: Psychological expose
CAST: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise and Valeria Golino
PLOT: Discovering upon his father's death that he has an institutionalized autistic savant brother, a selfish yuppie wants what he feels is his share of the inheritence. He kidnaps the brother, hoping to get ransom. This causes him to loose his girlfriend. As he and the brother travel toward LA, they rekindle their earliest of memories of each other and re-ignite the feeling of brotherly love. By the movie's end, the savant is more open to life through these adventures hardening his ability to withstand unaccustomed circumstances and the yuppie brother learns there is more to life than money.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT: 9.6 of 10; Academy Awards (1989): Best Picture, Best Actor (Hoffman), Best Director (Barry Levinson), Best screenplay. Need I say more?
DVD BONUS: Three overdubbings of commentary to choose from: the director and each of the screenwriters, some photo stills from behind the scenes, a theater trailer and a deleted scene.
ADDED NOTES: This is sad. The person who was ultimately the source of inspiration for the Hoffman (playing Raymond Babbitt)character, was a savant named Kim Peek who died this past December. One of the screenwriters, Morrow's wife had written about the character before in "Bill" got her husband interested in the world of autism. DH and TC got together and studied the issue and pushed the studios to put together a concept project bringing in script consultant Levinson to direct. As this effort shows, we need not lock away our psychologically challenged, but can under proper circumstances, integrate them into our world.