Tuesday, July 2, 2013

# 72. Rain Man (1988)

Code-name: Qantas
("Qantas never crashed")

Director: Barry Levinson
Type: Drama, Road Movie

Awards & Nominations:
OSCAR- Best Picture
OSCAR- Best Lead Actor- Dustin Hoffman
OSCAR- Best Director- Barry Levinson
OSCAR- Best Original Screenplay
nomination-OSCAR- Best Art Direction
nomination- OSCAR- Best Cinematography
nomination- OSCAR- Best Film Editing
nomination- OSCAR- Best Original Score- Hans Zimmer
Golden Globe- Best Picture (Drama)
Golden Globe- Best Actor (Drama)- Dustin Hoffman
nomination- Golden Globe- Best Director- Barry Levinson
nomination- Golden Globe- Best Original Screenplay

Raymond- Dustin Hoffman
Charlie Babbitt- Tom Cruise
Susanna- Valeria Golino
Dr. Bruner- Gerald R. Molen

[We stand corrected!]

After seeing this, if ever the situation calls for it, I quote "Qantas never crashed"... at the airport scene, Ray refuses to fly because all of the airlines have had history of crashes except Qantas...
but that's not entirely true... the Australian airline has suffered 8 fatal crashes... the last being in 1951... on propeller-driven planes, not jets... and supposedly the director made up that up for the script without doing his research.

[Pop Cultural Contributions]

When I started getting into movies in a big way, if I wasn't frequenting the local theaters, I was watching some random movie either because it featured one of my favorite characters or I wanted to understand references people have made, either in other movies or in everyday conversation.

"Rain-Man" appeared on my radar for the following reasons:
1) one of my favorite movies referenced the autistic title character ("counted toothpicks")
2) on a random YouTube video featuring one of my favorites actors, he not recommended it but further said Tom Cruise deserved an Oscar for it

...oddly enough, several people have considered his lack of recognition for his work on this film one of the biggest snubs in the history of awards season...


spoilers ahead

With the exception of "Top Gun," I'm not a fan of Tom Cruise's work in the 80's. As I've said before, his work has gotten much better with ages. Recently I saw him in "The Color of Money," and his role reminded a bit of Charlie Babbitt.
The big difference is that, however unlikeable and selfish Charlie is at the start of the movie, he redeems himself over time. It's that progress and the growing relationship between Charlie and Ray is what drives this picture and makes it as amazing as it is.

I'd seen Dustin Hoffman on a few occasions, but after seeing him in this Oscar-winning role, he's one of my new favorite actors and one I have the utmost respect for. "The Graduate" would have made this list as well if not for the fact I didn't see it until after I started putting this blog together.
Amazingly, the two movies are 20 years apart and it's like Dustin Hoffman hadn't aged at all between them.

The basic premise is that Charlie finds out that his estranged father died and left all of his inheritance to someone else. Charlie does his research and makes the trip from LA to the Walbrook Institute to meet Ray, who he discovers to be the older brother he never knew he had.

Ray is described as an autistic savant. When he first meets him, Charlie learns that he keeps to a schedule as if his very life depends on it and when he's upset, Ray's coping mechanism is running through the "Who's on first?" Abbott and Costello sketch.
Essentially, Charlie kidnaps Ray from the Institute, hoping to use him to reclaim his inheritance. No matter how much Ray drives Charlie crazy with his various quirks and regiments, he eventually grows close to him.

Honestly, I didn't get into the movie until the toothpicks scene, where Ray's brilliance truly becomes apparent. Ray requests toothpicks to eat with and after they spill on the floor, he says there are 246 on the floor, and it's revealed that 4 are still in the box...

With the exception of the occasional freak-out scene, the rest of it was smooth sailing and you can't help but be charmed by Ray when he has those moments of genius.
A lot of his lines became one-liners that people can't help but quote when the situation calls for it.
"I'm an excellent driver" is probably the most popular followed by "Qantas never crashed" and "K-Mart sucks"... that last one gets more true all the time :-P

We eventually learn that Charlie knew Ray as "the Rain Man" who he spent time with as a kid. There's a scene when Charlie runs hot water in a bath tub and Ray freaks out... what he says in this freak-out reminds Charlie of an incident where Ray accidentally scalded Charlie with hot water and that was the day he was set away to the Institute.

The most infamous happens in Vegas where Charlie uses Ray's ability to count cards to win at black jack.
I wasn't aware at the time, but "The Hangover" played homage to the scene with Zach Galifianakis as the high-rolling card counter... with the new suits, coming down the escalator, with the same song playing ("Iko Iko" by The Belle Stars)...
on the set of another film, one of his co-stars said Zach is "a little bit like Rain-Man where at some point during the day... he will come alive and will do something that only he can do."

Eventually, they get told to take their winnings elsewhere when they're found out. Charlie pleads his case with the lawyers when he eventually gets to LA with Ray, but the case becomes more about who maintains custody of Ray rather than what it was about originally... the inheritence money.
Although Ray shows his brilliance, his inability to differentiate between being with Charlie and being in the Institute leads to Ray going back to Walbrook. But in the final scene, it becomes apparent that Charlie wants to remain a part of his life.

[Last Bits of Trivia]

gotta love IMDB and its many contributions...
apparently, Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman believed in this movie so little while making it that they dubbed it "two schmucks in a car"
a couple of times, Dustin Hoffman tried to pull out, feeling like it wasn't going well or he was the wrong guy for the job... and the ending was his idea because it made more sense in the grand scheme of things, staying with Charlie would have gone against his character

and for anyone who's interested, here's the link for a discussion on the site:
500 things you learn from "Rain-Man"

another good one to keep in mind: maple syrup better be on the table before the pancakes because if it comes after the pancakes, it's too late

also this movie turns 25 this year... so there you go 8-) Enjoy.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Love this film. I'm a huge fan of Dustin Hoffman and believe this to be one of his finest performances.