Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barry Levinson|
|Produced by||Mark Johnson|
|Screenplay by||Barry Morrow
|Story by||Barry Morrow|
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Editing by||Stu Linder|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Running time||133 minutes|
Rain Man is a 1988 American comedy-drama film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass. It tells the story of an abrasive and selfish yuppie, Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), who discovers that his estranged father has died and bequeathed all of his multimillion-dollar estate to his other son, Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), an autistic savant whose existence Charlie was unaware of.
In addition to the two leads, Valeria Golino stars as Charlie's girlfriend, Susanna. Morrow created the character of Raymond after meeting Kim Peek, a real-life savant; his characterization was based on both Peek and Bill Sackter, a good friend of Morrow who was the subject of Bill, an earlier film that Morrow wrote. Rain Man received overwhelmingly positive reviews at the time of its release, praising Hoffman's role and the wit and sophistication of the screenplay.
The film won four Oscars at the 61st Academy Awards (March 1989), including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Hoffman. Its crew received an additional four nominations. The film also won the Golden Bear at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.
Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), a Los Angeles car dealer in his mid-twenties, is in the middle of importing four grey market Lamborghinis. The deal is being threatened by the EPA, and if Charlie cannot meet its requirements he will lose a significant amount of money. After some quick subterfuge with an employee, Charlie leaves for a weekend trip to Palm Springs with his girlfriend, Susanna (Valeria Golino).
Charlie's trip is cancelled by news that his estranged father, Sanford Babbitt, has died. Charlie travels to Cincinnati, Ohio, to settle the estate, where he learns an undisclosed trustee is inheriting $3 million on behalf of an unnamed beneficiary, while all he is to receive is a classic 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible he and his father once fought over, and several prize rose bushes. Eventually he learns the money is being directed to a mental institution, which is the home of his brother, Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman), of whose existence Charlie was previously unaware. This leads Charlie to ask the question that permeates the movie: "Why didn't somebody tell me I had a brother?"
Raymond has autism, and one of the manifestations of his condition is his superb recall, albeit usually with little understanding of the subject matter. He is also a mental calculator with the ability to instantly count hundreds of objects at once, far beyond the normal range of human subitizing abilities. He is frightened by change and adheres to strict routines (for example, his continual repetition of the "Who's on First?" sketch). Except when he is in distress, he shows little emotional expression and avoids eye contact. Numbed by learning that he has a brother and determined to get what he believes is his fair share of the Babbitt estate, Charlie takes Raymond on what becomes a cross-country car trip (due to Raymond's fear of flying) back to Los Angeles to meet with his attorneys. Charlie intends to start a custody battle in order to get Raymond's doctor, Dr. Gerald R. Bruner (Jerry Molen), to settle out of court for half of Sanford Babbitt's estate so that the mental institution can maintain custody of Raymond. Susanna, disgusted by Charlie's self-centeredness and his attempts at using his brother as a pawn to gain the money, leaves Charlie in Cincinnati and disappears.
During the course of the journey, Charlie learns about Raymond's autism, which he initially believes is not authentic – resulting in his frequent frustration with his brother's antics. He also learns about how his brother came to be separated from his family, as a result of an accident when he was left alone with Charlie when Charlie was a baby. Raymond also sings "I Saw Her Standing There" by The Beatles like he did when Charlie was young, prompting Charlie to realize that Raymond is the protective figure from his childhood, whom he falsely remembered as an imaginary friend named "Rain Man", which was a mispronunciation of "Raymond". Charlie proves to be sometimes shallow and exploitative, as when he learns that Raymond has an excellent memory and takes him to Las Vegas to win money at blackjack by counting cards. However, toward the end of their trip Charlie finds himself becoming protective of Raymond, and grows to love him truly.
Charlie meets with Dr. Bruner, who is also a friend of Charlie's father and is left in charge of that money and Raymond, who offers him money as he originally wanted, but Charlie has decided he no longer cares about the money and really just wants to have custody of his brother. However, at a meeting with a court-appointed psychiatrist and Dr. Bruner, Raymond is shown to be unable to decide exactly what he wants. Eventually, the psychiatrist presses Raymond to make the decision, upsetting him and leading Charlie to request that the doctor back off. Realizing Raymond needs more care than he can necessarily provide, he acquiesces but wants to be able to visit his brother in the future. Charlie, who has gained a new brother and mellowed considerably, promises Raymond as he boards an Amtrak train that he will visit in two weeks.
- Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbitt
- Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt
- Valeria Golino as Susanna
- Jerry Molen as Dr. Bruner
Agents at CAA sent the script to Hoffman and Bill Murray, envisioning Murray in the title role and Hoffman in the role eventually portrayed by Cruise. Martin Brest, Steven Spielberg, and Sydney Pollack were directors also involved in the film.
Almost all of the principal photography occurred during the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike; one key scene that was affected by the lack of writers was the film's final scene. Bass delivered his last rough cut of the script only hours before the strike started and spent no time on the set.
Rain Man was overall positively received by critics. It garnered an 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 7.7.  Vincent Canby of The New York Times called Rain Man a "becomingly modest, decently thought-out, sometimes funny film"; Hoffman's performance was a "display of sustained virtuosity . . . [which] makes no lasting connections with the emotions. Its end effect depends largely on one's susceptibility to the sight of an actor acting nonstop and extremely well, but to no particularly urgent dramatic purpose." Canby considered the "film's true central character" to be "the confused, economically and emotionally desperate Charlie, beautifully played by Mr. Cruise."
Amy Dawes of Variety wrote that "one of the year's most intriguing film premises ... is given uneven, slightly off-target treatment"; she calls the road scenes "hastily, loosely written, with much extraneous screen time," but admired the last third of the film, calling it a depiction of "two very isolated beings" who "discover a common history and deep attachment."
One of the film's harshest reviews came from New Yorker magazine critic Pauline Kael: "Everything in this movie is fudged ever so humanistically, in a perfunctory, low-pressure way. And the picture has its effectiveness: people are crying at it. Of course they're crying at it – it's a piece of wet kitsch."
Rain Man debuted on December 16, 1988, and was the second on the weekend's box office receipts (behind Twins), with $7 million. It reached the first spot on the December 30 – January 2 weekend, finishing 1988 with $42 million. The film would end up as the highest-grossing film of 1988 with $172 million.
Rain Man won Academy Awards for Best Picture; Best Actor in a Leading Role (Dustin Hoffman); Best Director; and Best Writing, Original Screenplay. It was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Ida Random, Linda DeScenna); Best Cinematography (John Seale); Best Film Editing; and Best Music, Original Score.
Effect on popular culture
Rain Man's portrayal of the main character's condition has been seen as inaugurating a common and incorrect media stereotype that people on the autism spectrum typically have savant skills, and references to Rain Man, in particular Dustin Hoffman's performance, have become a popular shorthand for autism and savantism. Conversely, Rain Man has also been seen as dispelling a number of other misconceptions about autism and improving public awareness of the failure of many agencies to accommodate autistic people and make use of the abilities they do have, regardless of whether they have savant skills.
A 2008 Bollywood film Yuvvraaj is loosely based on this movie.
- Barry Morrow's audio commentary for Rain Man from the DVD release.
- Rain Man at the Internet Movie Database
- "Berlinale: 1989 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
- Bass' audio commentary for Rain Man from the DVD release.
- Rain Man, Variety, December 14, 1988
- Niemann, Greg (2006). Palm Springs Legends: creation of a desert oasis. San Diego, CA: Sunbelt Publications. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-932653-74-1. OCLC 61211290. (here for Table of Contents)
- "Rain Man (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
- December 1988 review from The New York Times
- Kael, Pauline. Rain Man at Metacritic, The New Yorker (Feb. 1989)
- Rain Man review Ebert, Roger
- "Weekend Box Office: December 16–18, 1988". Box Office Mojo.
- "Weekend Box Office: December 30 – January 2, 1988". Box Office Mojo.
- Rain Man at Box Office Mojo
- "The 61st Academy Awards (1989) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
- Treffert, Darold. "Rain Man, the Movie/Rain Man, Real Life".
- Rose, I. Nelson; Loeb, Robert A. (1999). Blackjack and the Law. Rge Pub. ISBN 978-0-910575-08-9.
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- Rain Man at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Rain Man at the Internet Movie Database
- Rain Man at the TCM Movie Database
- Rain Man at AllMovie
- Rain Man at Box Office Mojo
- Rain Man at Rotten Tomatoes
- Rain Man at Metacritic