Rain Man

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

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-centerd 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! and Wapner, has 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.

Rain Man is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in Rain Man include:
  • Appropriated Appellation: Rain Man, because little Charlie couldn't pronounce "Raymond."
  • The Caretaker: Charlie. Very reluctantly at first but by the end his love for his brother is heartwarming.
  • Disability Superpower: Raymond is the scourge of casinos everywhere.
  • Dumb Is Good: Raymond. Charlie on the other hand is functional, smart and scheming.
  • Dysfunctional Family
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • Shown Their Work: Hoffman's acting as an autistic is very close to how 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.
  • 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".
  • You Say Tomato: Rain Man comes from how little Charlie pronounced Raymond.