As Charlie Babbitt learns, “Rain Man” is his mispronunciation of his brother’s name. Charlie has forgotten that he has a brother. Raymond Babbitt is an autistic savant and was placed in a good institution because Charlie once inadvertently injured him, and their father deemed living at home was not safe for Rain Man Raymond. When three million dollars enters the picture, Charlie discovers Raymond.
Charlie becomes estranged from his father while pursuing the high stakes career of brokering automobile deals, but when his father dies, he is in for a string of shocks. First, Charlie discovers that his inheritance from his father’s estate is a Buick convertible and a rose garden while three million dollars has been left to someone else to be paid out from a trust fund. Next he discovers the “someone” is the brother whom he has forgotten he ever had.
Three million dollars is a lot of money to not have, and it is a lot of money to see a forgotten savant brother, who has surprising rituals he must rigidly live by, have at his beck and call. No doubt about it, Charlie has to do something and he does—he kidnaps Raymond. At first, we’re inclined to not care so much about this hard-nosed, hard-driving, ungiving, brother-forgetting, wheeler-dealer named Charlie, but then we discover that all through his childhood he had an imaginary friend whom he called Rain Man. It is Raymond who tells him that, no, he, himself, is Rain Man. Rain Man was the childish name that Charlie gave to Raymond because his infant tongue couldn’t say Raymond. The revelation comes to us at the same moment that it comes to Charlie: there is love in his heart and regret at losing one of the greatest objects of that love.
From here, the Levinson film Rain Man takes Charlie and Raymond on a journey of mutual self-discovery and adventure. The end result of the journey will give you food for thought and an abiding love of Raymond the savant who can count and do mathematical calculations in a glance and in twinkling and for the power-crazed auto broker who takes Raymond on the road trip of his life.
Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbitt shines in a burnished, patinaed sort of way. His ability to assimilate an out of the ordinary character and make him genuine and authentic will be lauded in colleges film classes for decades to come. Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt makes us dislike him just enough so that we can forgive him later and cheer him on to what we hope will ultimately be attained. Both actors are supported by the other players, the settings, the journey in the Buick and the great script so that their performances stand as part of a unified film experience that will be one of the immortal classics of 20th century film. If you haven’t seen Rain Man yet, by director Barry Levinson, do go out of your way to see Hoffman and Cruise in Rain Man.
Rain Man has a MPAA rating of R. Adults only please. Teens and younger ones can wait. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Rain Man (1988)
Barry Levinson – Director; Barry Morrow & Robert Bass – Screenplay Writers; Dustin Hoffman – Raymond Babbitt; Tom Cruise – Charlie Babbitt; Valeria Golino – Susanna; Production Design – Ida Random.