Rain Man

Rain Man (Barry Levinson, 1988)

Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt's (Tom Cruise) father left a fortune to his savant brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) and a pittance to Charlie; they travel cross-country.

This popular success film that won many Academy Awards is an iconic piece of film that delivers a nice entertainment that sealed Dustin Hoffman as one of the most respected Hollywood actors but also that proved to many of Tom Cruise’s detractors that he could act in a more serious film.

Much like other Academy Awards winner for Best Actor, like Forrest Gump for instance, Rain Man is about an actor portraying mental illness and making us believe in it. With a plot full of wit, sometimes comedy, and heart warming moments we are in the presence of the kind of family movie you can watch and feel no harm. It brought a little more light on autistic people and their challenges.
It makes us face how capitalism represented by Cruise’s character often forget how it is important to give more money on social programs for the less fortunate and those who can’t live by themselves. This is a nice moral lesson.

However, I have some struggles ranking Rain Man as one of the greatest films of all time. Yes this is a very good script and it deserves recognition. There’s also all those iconic moments parodied in The Simpsons and remembered in The Hangover by the character of Alan.

On a more personal note, I tend to like films of the 1980’s with their more conformism form and less control to the directors since the crash of Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate saga. I don’t like the fact that directors had less power over their films. In fact, I hate this. But there’s something to the films of the 1980’s that reflects the time of my childhood and how America tried to connect to better times. In fact, connecting to the baby-boomers’ childhood of the 1950’s. Just look at Back to the Future and its mega success with the story of a teen that goes back to the time his parents met.

With Rain Man, we are dead on this, they go in Las Vegas, a place that had its best moments in the 1950’s with the Rat Pack and the presence of Elvis, Sinatra, and all those classy American acts. In fact, Rain Man had a very good screenplay and it is one of the reasons why it worked so well with audiences in 1988 and still works well today.

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