Tuesday, February 15, 2011

1988: Rain Man

Charlie Babbitt is struggling to keep his business afloat when he learns of his estranged father's death.  He travels from Los Angeles to Cincinnati for the funeral and learns that his father essentially cut him out of his will.  After digging a little deeper, Charlie discovers that the money was left to his autistic brother named Raymond, whom Charlie didn't even know existed.  Livid that his father left $3,000,000 to someone who doesn't understand the concept of money, Charlie kidnaps Raymond, hoping to get half of the money.  On the road to Los Angeles, Raymond nearly pushes Charlie over the edge with his insistence to stick to his old routine and his inability to communicate effectively.  Slowly, Charlie begins to overcome his annoyance and frustration with Raymond and learn to appreciate his brother for the person he is.

First of all, I just have to say that I don't normally like Tom Cruise because I find him extremely annoying.  However, in this movie, that kind of works because Charlie starts out as such a jerk, so you're not really supposed to like him.  I enjoy this movie anyway, since Dustin Hoffman's incredible performance as Raymond definitely makes up for Tom Cruise's obnoxiousness.  From his flat, emotionless voice to his unfocused gaze and nervous mannerisms, Hoffman flawlessly embodies his character.  The developing relationship between the two brothers enfolds wonderfully onscreen, but it wouldn't be nearly as powerful if it wasn't believable.  Dustin Hoffman makes the story seem real.  He really is an extraordinarily talented actor, and I like that he's been in three Best Picture Winners, all in different decades and as three incredibly different characters.

Rain Man's story keeps moving at a steady pace and is engaging.  The character development is superb; Raymond's mannerisms are consistent throughout, which contributes to the believability, and Charlie is also consistent, though he thankfully becomes much less of a jerk by the end.  It is powerful to watch the bond that forms between the two incredibly different brothers.  This is a touching story that is not incredibly depressing, which is a nice change of pace. 

I do find it interesting that Dominick and Eugene, another really good film about the relationship between a developmentally-disabled man and his brother, was made in the same year as Rain Man.  For some reason, Rain Man was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four, while Dominick and Eugene wasn't even nominated for any.  Not that Rain Man didn't deserve awards, but Dominick and Eugene should have at least been nominated for something.  So my recommendation is to watch both Rain Man and Dominick and Eugene, and then decide for yourself which is better.  Feel free to leave thoughts in the Comments, so I know that someone is actually reading this.

Stay tuned for: Driving Miss Daisy (the last PG-rated Academy Award Winner to date)

1 comment:

  1. I just re-watched Dominick and Eugene, and I have to say I like it better than Rain Man. Dominick and Eugene certainly made me cry a lot more.