Rain Man is a 1988 film starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. The film tells the story of two brothers - one a savant, the other a hustler - and how they discover each other. It won the Best Picture Academy Award in 1988 and deservingly so; Dustin Hoffman's acting has never been as brilliant and the underlying script is fantastic. The film was produced by Mirage Entertainment and distributed by United Artists. It was written by Barry Morrow, directed by Barry Levinson, and runs for two hours and thirteen minutes. It is currently available for home viewing in VHS and DVD formats.
The story revolves around two brothers, Charlie (played by Tom Cruise) and Raymond (played by Dustin Hoffman). Charlie is a hustler who has gotten through life by being quick on his feet and knowing how to work people and situations. When his father dies, he discovers that his father has left a massive inheritance to his brother, Raymond, who he has never met or even known of. Raymond is autistic, but he is able to calculate complicated mathematical problems in his head with great speed and accuracy. Raymond doesn't even understand what money is for, yet he has a large inheritance. Enraged by the fact that their father kept Raymond out of his life, Charlie kidnaps Raymond from his home. The two of them begin a long road trip together, and eventually Charlie becomes attached to his brother.
The film is an extremely well-done emotional knockout. Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman are both in fantastic form here in terms of their acting abilities and they have a certain chemistry that can't be faked. The underlying story is quite good as well, and thus all of the elements are in place to make this one a modern classic, which it is.
What really makes this film hit home is its use of everyday situations with these characters. Charlie plans to fly the two of them far away from Raymond's home, but when they arrive at the airport, Raymond announces that he will only fly Qantas. Raymond demonstrates an uncanny ability to count cards and calculate probabilities of what is coming next in a deck of cards; armed with this knowledge, Charlie the hustler of course immediately heads to Las Vegas with Raymond in tow. Yet it is all treated with a very sensitive and sentimental touch; it is details like these, with characters that seem real and fit them perfectly, that makes this movie great.
The film won four Oscars, including best picture, a best actor award for Dustin Hoffman, a best director award for Barry Levinson, and a best writing award. It was also nominated for best scene decoration, best editing, best score, and best cinematography. In addition, the movie won two Golden Globes, for best picture and best actor (Dustin Hoffman). It definitely deserved these awards; the only other significant film of the year was Mississippi Burning.
The DVD release of this film is pretty lackluster. The only extra included in the disc is the theatrical trailer and a nice eight page booklet that reviews the making of the film. When compared to DVD extravaganzas like Fight Club or Brazil, this seems extremely paltry. Still, it can on occasion be found on the discount rack at a price well worth paying to own a film of such high quality. My recommendation here, however, is to rent before you buy unless you can find it at an inexpensive price.
This film is highly recommended to everyone and has the critical accolades to back it up. It is a solid movie in every aspect, with a very good story and tremendous acting from the two central figures in the film. If you enjoyed this one, other films of similar stature and nature include Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise's best film besides this one except for maybe Magnolia), The Color of Money, and The Graduate. All are excellent films that stand up well next to this one, feature similar leading actors, and often have similar themes.