Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) must be one of the biggest pricks we've ever encountered in cinema. I can't think of a character who is more selfish, egotistical, and downright mean than ole Charlie Babbitt. Charlie's just been informed by his late father's lawyer that he has been largely cut out of his father's will because of the resentment he harbored towards him. Sure, he received his dad's classic car and his prize-winning rose bushes, but the old man's 3 million dollar estate, he can't touch that.
Charlie is right at home in his career as a car salesman. His business seems shady right off the bat. Running out of what appears to be an old airplane hanger, Charlie finagles people on the phone, trying to sell them exotic sports cars. Isn't that just the perfect job for someone as self-centered as Charlie?
After learning he's been cut off from his Dad's money, Charlie does some investigating to try and figure out who the trustee of his dad's money actually is. That's when he comes across an institution for mentally challenged people, where he learns he has a brother that he never knew about. Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman) has high-functioning autism. He's completely incapable of carrying on a normal conversation, but his brain can immediately calculate how many toothpicks have just been dropped on the floor.
In Charlie's warped mind, he thinks that if he takes Raymond away from the institution he can somehow ransom his brother for his half of his dad's money. Initially, Charlie is anything but loving towards Raymond, treating him like a dog that just won't stop barking,until His girlfriend gets sick of the way Charlie is treating his brother and ends up leaving.
'Rain Man' won multiple Oscars when it was released, including Best Picture and a Best Actor win for Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman is brilliant as Raymond and it remains one of the many highlights of his career. The Oscar-winning original screenplay penned by Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow has a subtle genius to it. It could have so easily turned into a road trip movie where clichés abound until the two brothers finally become enamored with each other. With this screenplay though, Charlie and Raymond never really have The Moment. They grow with each other little by little. Only the subtle things will let you into how they're developing a relationship. You've got to watch for the little moments, and really pay attention, or you'll miss out on the heart of the movie. Raymond's rare laughs provide some of the sweetest moments in the movie.
'Rain Man' doesn't have a hackneyed ending or a finale churned out of the Happy Ending Factory. It has a denouement that is poignant, thoughtful, and abrupt. Essentially it isn't an ending at all, but a new beginning for Charlie as a person. He's dramatically changed from the egotistical maniac he once was to a semi-thoughtful caring person who really is concerned with his brother's welfare. Watching these characters develop throughout the movie is a truly rewarding cinematic experience.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'Rain Man' is housed on a 50GB-Blu-ray disc and doesn't actually have a main menu. It starts right in on the film with only a pop-up menu being available for selecting special features.
MGM's Blu-ray release of 'Rain Man' comes complete with a 1080p AVC-encoded transfer. For a movie from 1988, the film stands up pretty well, but still features some drawbacks. First off, many of the scenes look like they have been noticeably tinkered with using DNR. It doesn't create that dreaded plastic look that we all hate, a lot of the time the DNR appears to soften finer details. Edge enhancement is also noticeable throughout, but it isn't overly distracting to the eye.
This Blu-ray does look better than the previous DVD release of the movie though. More detail can be appreciated, and the brickwork of Raymond's institution is some of the more stunning photography in the movie. Colors are vibrant and lively, from the greens of the institutional grounds, to the earthy tones of the road, to the bright glitzy lights of Las Vegas. Blacks are somewhat crushing however, obscuring detail and clarity whenever darker scenes take over. Random bits of noise, in the form of flecks and hairs, pops up every now and then, but only occasionally.
This is probably about as good as you can expect this movie to look without a remaster of the source.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track accompanying 'Rain Man' is actually a very engaging track for how old it is. Hans Zimmer's decidedly 80s score (complete with synthesized sound galore) pushes its way through all six channels creating a great listening environment.
Dialogue for the most part is clear, but there are occasions when lines mumbled by Raymond are lost and unintelligible. A few times I had to skip back and find out exactly what he said. The audio track does have a sense of hollowness to it like many tracks from the 80s. This is especially noticeable when Raymond screams. LFE is notable in a few scenes, but it doesn't really stick around for much of the movie. Pans work smoothly as the car zooms in and out of frame with its roaring engine.
Overall, a solid audio track for a catalogue title.
'Rain Man' won multiple Oscars and it's easy to see why. It's a daring film, with two characters who couldn't be more opposite. Even then, the movie avoids clichés and instead lets the story of these two brothers play out. I simply love the ending, as it leaves us wondering where Charlie will go next and how his experience with Raymond has deeply changed him. The video and audio are slightly above average. The special features are a little skimpy, but fans will enjoy the numerous commentaries included. This one comes recommended.