Rain Man (1988)


release date: 16 December 1988 (USA)
run time: 133 mins
rated: PG
considered: Drama
director: Barry Levinson
starring: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino, Gerald R. Molen, Jack Murdock, Michael D. Roberts, Ralph Seymour, Lucinda Jenney, Bonnie Hunt, Kim Robillard, Beth Grant, Dolan Dougherty, Marshall Dougherty, Patrick Dougherty, John-Michal Dougherty

movie summary: In the beautiful city of Los Angeles, there is a man who is always down on his luck while trying to make a quick buck. Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is a wheeling and dealing salesperson who finds out his father, a multi-millionaire, has passed away in his hometown of Cincinnati. Although the news doesn’t catch him off guard, the fact that the inheritance cheque is headed to his brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) does. Charlie can’t believe that he has a brother until he reaches Cincinnati to meet with him face to face. Charlie desperately wants the money and is surprised to learn his brother is in a hospital because he has autism. In an attempt to get custody of the three million dollar inheritance, Charlie will “steal” Raymond and head back to Los Angeles to get him to sign over the money.  

my thoughts: I honestly had no plans to review all 12 movies I listed in my Blind Spot Series post from last month. After watching three movies off the list and not liking any of them, I figured it would be wise for me to share my disapproval of each. I’m going to start with Rain Man, which won an Oscar for Best Picture in 1988. How on earth this film won such a prestigious award is beyond me because, except for Dustin Hoffman’s character, there’s nothing extraordinary here. Tom Cruise was just coming into his own in Hollywood and was on his way to superstardom while Hoffman was already established as a top actor. Together they had great chemistry on-screen, but their performances did not allow me to enjoy this movie. 

Hoffman by far deserved the Oscar for Best Actor because his performance was simply outstanding. I know there was no way I would be able to pull off such a performance, and he deserved all the accolades that he got. I also know that if I was in Cruise’s shoes that I would have never had the patience to drag his brother along, kicking and screaming from east to west. Sure the pair grow on each other and, in the end, only want what is best for one another, but their journey of self-discovery is nowhere near as adventurous as many different cross-country journeys.

You may think I’m shallow with this review and that I don’t like mentally challenged people. Neither of those things is the reason why I didn’t like this movie. Rain Man came out when I was six years old, and it took me 26 years to finally watch it because I knew it wouldn’t appeal to me. Some people think that because I watch so many movies in a day and a year, my expectations are so high that it is tough to please me. I don’t feel like I have high expectations unless it’s a blockbuster I’ve been dying to see or a movie with one of my favourite actors in it. Rain Man did not present me with anything to laugh at, appreciate, or remember. It sounds a little bit harsh, but there was only one moment that made me laugh out loud, and that was when Charlie asks Raymond if he treats him like shit. That, to me, was the only funny scene in this two-hour movie, and the rest of the awkward situations the pair find themselves in are not really funny.

I feel bad for bashing such a highly regarded movie, but it is not even listed there when you look at the IMDb Top 250 list. I looked up the best picture nominations for 1988, and my money would have been on Ghosts of Mississippi to win. I vaguely remember that movie from high school history class, but I could have sworn that movie was more entertaining and had a better storyline than this film. Every year, the academy hands out awards that often leave people questioning those decisions; I would consider Rain Man to be in that category.


my final thoughts: Rain Man is often referred to in pop culture for a variety of reasons. Whether it be for someone’s brilliance or utter stupidity, many people get compared to Raymond. This lovable loner character was one of Dustin Hoffman’s best performances while helping launch Tom Cruise into an even bigger star. I had meant to watch this movie for years and finally got around to it, but I would never consider watching it again. Most of you would skip this movie unless you were trying to watch all the Best Picture winners. If you decide to watch it, I’ll warn you that this heartfelt drama is supposed to make you say awe or shed a tear but is actually the same story you’ve seen a million times before.

my star rating: 4 out 10

imdb: 8.0  out 10 
metascore: 65/100 
rottentomatoes: 90% out 100% 
roger ebert: 3.5 out 4
richard crouse: n/a

7 thoughts on “Rain Man (1988)

  1. Props for going toe-to-toe with a Best Picture Winner but the story holds its own against Dustin Hoffman’s outstanding performance in my opinion. Not just your run-of-the-mill regurgitated story as you suggest though

    1. Like they say, if you want to be the best you got to beat the best! Rain Man may win the war in the long run but I stayed in the battle for as long as I could. My judges scoreboard gives the victory to me, although Hoffman and Cruise deserve high scores for their performances. 🙂

  2. Great review. I like this film but it is a mixed bag. Hoffman’s performance is probably my favourite Oscar-winning performance. Not only does he carry Cruise he makes him lift his game and actually put on a half-decent show.

    1. I feel the same way you do about the characters and their performances, just the story dragged in so many areas that I didn’t really care if they made it to LA or not. Cruise probably learnt a lot from working with Hoffman who pulled off a brilliant performance. I can’t imagine how much time and effort he put into his character to master all the traits of someone with autism. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Hoffman and Cruise thought it would be terrible.

    “During filming, both Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise doubted the movie’s potential and jokingly called it, “Two Schmucks in a Car”.

    The story may seem generic, but it still is one of the best versions of this kind of film.

    Glad you finally saw it Ryan!

    Great review!

    1. Thanks Rob for the insight into movie trivia about Rain Man. Sadly no matter what others think, this movie was not for me. I am glad I finally crossed it off my list and that’s all I got left to say about it ha ha.

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