Despite this film first opening with a disappointing $6 million in sales, within the following weeks it generated great word of mouth amongst movie viewers, allowing it to steadily climb to the number 1 slot until it became the highest-grossing movie of 1988.
When car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) learns that his estranged father has died, he returns home where he discovers that he has an autistic older brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) and that his father's $3 million fortune is being left to the mental institution in which Raymond lives. Motivated by his father's money, Charlie checks Raymond out of the facility in order to return with him to Los Angeles. The brothers' cross-country trip ends up changing both their lives.
This is such a good film! I can't imagine anyone not liking it. Just both the acting and cinematography are wonderful. I didn’t really like Tom Cruise's character, Charlie, but I don’t think you were supposed to! Money was all that was in the man’s head. Still, I loved the relationship that formed between him and his brother as the film progressed. There is a scene towards the beginning when the lawyer is reading the will to Charlie. Charlie replies in a moment of frustration, "I definitely got the rose bushes, I have definitely got the rose bushes." This foreshadows Raymond's extensive use of the word "definitely" later on. I think it’s interesting writing. Charlie is just so indifferent to Raymond...at least for the most part. He’s witnessed how good Raymond is with numbers but doesn’t appreciate it until it’s proven by a psychiatrist and even then he just uses Raymond for his own interest. He’s a very self-centred person. But this is what makes the movie so compelling to watch: seeing the relationship between the two brothers developing throughout the film. He does show moments of consideration gradually as he becomes accustomed to Raymond's needs and wants, and when he does it's quite touching. After all, he's not a bad person! He's just a bit hot-headed...particularly when it comes to money...
One of my favourite moments was when Charlie and Raymond are singing together in the bathroom of a motel during their excursion, after Charlie accidentally calls Raymond “Rain Man”. I think this was the moment Charlie began to genuinely care about Raymond. I also love the moment when Charlie decides to teach Raymond how to dance in Vegas. But the best quote from the film is surely when Charlie says “I had a father I hardly knew. A mother I didn’t know at all. I found out a few days ago that I have a brother and I want to be with him.”
Both Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro turned down the part of Raymond. Dustin Hoffman was originally to play the part of Charlie. However, after being moved to tears seeing a savant named Leslie Lemke (who is blind, mentally handicapped, and has cerebral palsy) play full concertos on the piano by ear, he decided to play the part of Raymond instead. He is absolutely fantastic. Yet, he was supposed to be very apprehensive about his own performance. But lo and behold, it garnered him a well-deserved Oscar at that year’s Academy Awards! Fun fact: the boy at the pancake counter is apparently Dustin Hoffman’s son.
I find it remarkable knowing that although they share co-screenwriting credit, Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass never met until the awards ceremonies they attended when the film started garnering awards. To me that just sounds crazy!
This is definitely a film not to be missed!