Rain Man is a 1988 Oscar-winning film by Barry Levinson
starring Dustin Hoffman
and Tom Cruise
. The main character is loosely based around real-life savant Kim Peek (1951-2009), who in reality had FG syndrome
, not autism.
Cruise plays Charlie Babbitt who, being a car dealer in his mid-20s during the 1980s, is a self-centred egotistical yuppie. Upon the death of his father, Charlie is told that instead of receiving a $3 million inheritance as he was expecting, he gets a convertible and some prize-winning rose bushes. This affront to Charlie's luxurious lifestyle will not be tolerated. After a little detective work, Charlie finds that the money is being sent to a mental institution in Cincinnati. It's only when he visits the hospital that Charlie finds the truth: The money is going to his previously unknown brother Raymond, who has severe autism.
Charlie decides to whisk (read: kidnap) Raymond away and meet with his attorneys in Los Angeles so he can get — in his view — what is rightfully his. Charlie discovers multiple things about Raymond, one being that no matter how much he screams and shouts Raymond does not and cannot change (he has to watch Jeopardy!
to have the syrup on the table before
the pancakes arrive, etc.). The other is that Raymond has near perfect recall and mathematical skills to rival any calculator. Seeing this, it leads Charlie to use Raymond to help his own financial problems and (in an oft parodied / replicated scene) takes Raymond to Las Vegas to count cards.
The film's focus is on the bonding power of family and how when you take care of someone else it teaches you not to be so self-centered. Raymond can't change, but Charlie can, and does.This film gave us The Rainman
. Every autistic person in recent film and television owes a lot to Dustin Hoffman's brilliant performance, as well as their near mandated Disability Superpower
. Whether either is good or bad is up for debate.
This film gives us the following examples:
- Appropriated Appellation - Rain Man, because little Charlie couldn't pronounce "Raymond."
- Atomic F-Bomb: Usually only a mild profanity, but the sheer way that Charlie screams "SON OF A BIIITCH!!!" so loud that it echoes, it definitely counts.
- The Caretaker - Charlie. Very reluctantly at first but by the end his love for his brother is heartwarming.
- Dueling Movies - With Twins.
- Dumb Is Good - Raymond. Charlie on the other hand is functional, smart and scheming.
- Disability Superpower - Raymond is the scourge of casinos everywhere.
- Downer Ending: Charlie fails to get custody of Raymond. It can be a Bittersweet Ending if you're of the belief that the institution is more capable of taking care of Raymond than Charlie will ever be, but it's still jarring to watch after seeing the bond they've formed.
- Dysfunctional Family
- Hates Being Touched: Raymond screams when his brother tries to give him a hug.
- Idiot Savant - Raymond
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged - Raymond
- Jeopardy! Intelligence Test - As demonstrated by Raymond
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold - Charlie after a while.
- Literal-Minded - One of the ways Raymond's autism manifests itself, most notably when it results in him stopping in the middle of a pedestrian crossing because the sign says "don't walk".
- Long Lost Relative - Raymond
- Madness Mantra - X minutes to Wapner.
- Method Acting - Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of Raymond changed so much over the course of making the film that by the time the second half was filmed, they had to re-film the first half because Hoffman's portrayal had improved so much.
- Hoffman worked with Kim Peek for a while to try and understand him. Hoffman later suggested they let Kim interact with the public more via forums as he saw a big improvement with his social skills after only a few days of interacting with a stranger. Kim (with his father and caretaker) started doing conventions and because of this movie he was in high demand and very popular.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Refers to Raymond ... or rather, a young Charlie's malapropism when he was a toddler who had not yet learned to properly enunciate his older, autistic brother's name.
- Not That Kind of Doctor - In exasperation, Charlie takes Raymond to an MD on the middle of their road trip to figure out what the hell is up with his brother. The doctor is no psychologist, though he does help clue Charlie in to the basics of Raymond's condition.
- Passed Over Inheritance: The movie opens with Charlie finding out that almost all of his late father's fortune is going to unknown brother Raymond instead of him.
- Persona Non Grata - The casinos don't know exactly how Raymond did it, but he and his brother are told to take their winnings and never return; also not to try this anywhere else because now their reputation shall precede them everywhere they go.
- Photographic Memory - Can you see a theme emerging?
- Photo Montage - The credits are all photos Raymond took throughout the movie.
- The Reveal - Raymond's existence.
- First as his brother, and then that he was the titular "Rain Man".
- "...you? You're the Rain Man?!"
- Road Movie - It had to be this because Raymond refused to fly with any other airline but Qantas. (Raymond is correct about Qantas never having had a jet crash, but they have had several fatal incidents and some near misses.)
- Separated at Birth - Not quite, but they were separated at a young age. Charlie distantly remembers his brother, thinking that he is an imaginary childhood friend known as The Rain Man, which is where the film's title comes from.
- Schedule Fanatic - Raymond. Due to his mind being so rooted in routine, he can't really function at all or even comply with (or comprehend) instructions that contradict his schedule. (He buys his underwear at Kmart, and it has to be that Kmart.)
- Shown Their Work - Hoffman's acting as an autistic is very close to how some autistics are in real life. (see Schedule Fanatic above.)
- Since classification of autism has always been very difficult, it may be that the movie has changed who gets classified as autistic instead of other similar disorders like Rett syndrome. Thus making it seem more accurate than it really set out to be (the movie only had 3 weeks of research). Proof of the difficulty of classification is that if a child cannot be pigeon holed into a disorder, they are often classified as PDD-NOS or an atypical autistic.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Charlie uses almost all of the profanity in the entire film. This also makes him solely responsible for the R-rating since language (and maybe that one sex scene) is the sole reason for that rating in the first place, especially when you consider that he's the only one who uses the F word.
- Tag Along Actor: Dustin Hoffman spent a year working with autistic men and their families to understand their complex relationships as a preparation for his role.
- Ten Movie Plots - And they called it buddy love.
- Verbal Tic: Raymond often says "yeah", "definitely", "of course X" and "uh oh".
- Viva Las Vegas. When Charlie takes Raymond on a little road trip to raise some cash. Complete with the mandatory "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign.
- “Well Done Son” Guy: Charlie
- You Say Tomato: Rain Man comes from how little Charlie pronounced Raymond.