With the Twins getting their asses kicked in Kansas City Tuesday night, Lauren and I opted to ignore the game and watch our next Best Picture movie, 1988′s Rain Man. I had seen Rain Man a number of times, but probably never beginning to end in one sitting, and even so it had been close to ten years since I caught bits and pieces of it on TV. I had anxiously been waiting for something a little more lighthearted to come up in the project after our recent movies about the history of China’s last emperor, the Vietnam War, and a Danish woman living in Africa.
Rain Man stars Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt, a young hot-headed car dealer from LA, who returns to Cincinnati for his father’s funeral. Having fallen completely out of touch, Charlie is left with only a car and a rosebush from his father’s will, with the rest of his $3 million estate going to an unnamed beneficiary in a mental institution. Charlie visits the institution to find out who received the money, and learns he has an older autistic brother he had never known. Angry his brother Raymond received the inheritance, Charlie kidnaps him from the institution and hits the road, hoping to take Raymond back to Los Angeles to meet with his attorneys and reach a settlement for what he believes to be his rightful share.
The bulk of Rain Man centers on the Babbitt brothers’ road trip across the country, with Raymond at first wearing on Charlie’s nerves. Raymond is unable to communicate like a normal person and spends most of his time reciting Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine. He is used to being on a strict schedule at the institution and Charlie must make sure to feed him specific meals at exact times and make sure he gets to watch his favorite TV shows every day. But after Raymond’s card counting in Las Vegas wins Charlie thousands at the black jack tables, the two form a bond, and Charlie now wants Raymond to move in with him in Los Angeles.
I ended up ranking this at #10 on my list, moving ahead of Gandhi and just behind Marty. For me, Rain Man was a big winner for several reasons—interesting story, easy to follow, great acting, comedic moments, and based in the present day (that it was produced, anyway). I’m a little tired of movies that are based so far in the past; it was nice to see a movie referencing “Jeopardy” and K-Mart.
My favorite scenes of the movie included the Babbitts intruding on a rural family so Raymond could watch his shows, and the blackjack scenes in Las Vegas. The touching moments of the movie also took place in Vegas, with Charlie teaching Raymond how to dance, and Charlie’s girlfriend giving Raymond his first kiss, which Raymond can only describe as “wet.” One of the most breathtaking moments from the movie, if you will, is when Charlie pieces together that his childhood imaginary friend Rain Man was really him vaguely remembering his older brother Raymond, who was taken away when Charlie was a toddler. Raymond has a frightening flashback when Charlie turns on the water in the hotel bathtub, remembering a moment from 1962 when baby Charlie was burned in hot bath water.
All around, excellent movie in my opinion. The ending wrapped up very sensibly, perhaps because it was written hours before the writers’ strike of 1988.