Rain Man

Rain Man (1988)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurettes, Deleted Scene

Being such a high profile film, many are aware of Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) and his brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman). After his father passed away, the selfish Charlie is appalled to not only find out he was slighted in the inheritance, but that he also has an Autistic brother named Raymond. Charlie, who had always been a rebel and was certainly not the apple of his father's eye, kidnaps his brother and travels cross country with him. With his girlfriend Susanna (Valeria Golino) in tow, Charlie wants nothing more than to get the three million dollars from his brother and forget he exists. Over the course of the trip, Raymond unknowingly shows that even two polar opposites can sync up from time to time.

"Rain Man" may not be the first movie to deal with mental retardation, but it certainly is a trendy one. Raymond is an iconic character. Just as "Forrest Gump" did six years later, the film manages to produce some quotable lines and make "The People's Court" Raymond's 1988 version of "A box of cho-co-lates". Dustin Hoffman does an amazing job in the film and could have easily come across as offensive playing the mentally challenged Raymond. During the first half of "Rain Man", viewers are kind of just rolling with the punches. Raymond is an odd character who is fun to follow. He always seems to have something else on his mind and he is very meticulous with his actions. While his "Who's on First?" banter may be frustrating for onscreen brother Charlie, audiences find the take somewhat amusing. When the bathwater is running about 75 minutes in, Raymond loses what little control he has. It isn't until he hits that moment that we truly feel his pain. The piercing screams and violent panic quickly bring home the fact that Raymond is troubled. He does have issues and requires that someone watch him at all times. Up until this point, we are having a good time watching Raymond look at the world in his own unique way. In the bathtub scene, we lose control of what we know about the character, just as Charlie does with Raymond. Dustin Hoffman deserved the Best Actor win and this key scene shows why.

Looking back on "Rain Man", one may argue that the film was very pivotal in the career of Tom Cruise. Keeping his crazy Scientology antics out of the discussion, the role of Charlie Babbitt (along with his part as Vincent Lauria in "The Color Of Money") was part of the shift from 'cool kid' Tom to 'serious actor' Tom. "Rain Man" was just a classier film, hanging its hat on eight Oscar nominations and four wins. Being paired with Dustin Hoffman may have been just the thing Cruise needed to take that step from Hollywood Heartthrob to Respected Actor. Some of his movies since the 1988 classic include "Born On The Fourth Of July", "The Firm", "Jerry Maguire", "Eyes Wide Shut" and "Magnolia". Tom had always been a box office draw, but his tastes certainly changed after "Rain Man". He went on to work with some of the most respected directors in the industry and capture three Best Actor Oscar nominations between 1989 and 1999. A lot of times, we only look at a movie at surface level. As accomplished as "Rain Man" is, it should also be known the film that really made Tom Cruise.

MGM has delivered "Rain Man" with a 1080p AVC encoded transfer that may not 'pop' the way Blu-ray fans would like. While it has finer detail and overall clarity than the DVD release, there is a great deal of edge enhancement that mars the upgrade. Fleshtones are a bit off at times, coming across with a bit of an orange hue. Understand I am really nitpicking this release. The video quality isn't going to ruin the experience for anyone who decides to revisit the film. MGM's release of "Last Tango In Paris" took a decades old film and gave it a beautifully soft film like upgrade for Blu-ray. Given that "Rain Man" is such a huge part of MGM's back catalogue, I am surprised that the transfer seems so uninspired. Rather than try and touch up an old master, I wish MGM had taken a bit more time with this classic.

The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is a great one. Now mostly known for his outstanding "Inception" score, "Rain Man" shows a young Hans Zimmer at work. It may not be the best example for how great he would become, but it certainly sounds good on this mix. Dialogue levels are decent and as with most dramas, the sound is mainly limited to the front field. I would say "Rain Man" comes in a bit better than anticipated in the sound department since I expected a good mix and ended up with a very good one.

The extra features start off with three audio commentaries. The first is with Director Barry Levinson, the second has Writer Barry Morrow, and the third is with Writer Ronald Bass. All of the men are very informative, yet come across as fairly passive during their commentaries. They seem to take in the onscreen activities and comment accordingly, letting the film speak for itself in certain moments. Writer Ronald Bass in particular starts off strong and seems to lull into soft and smoky as he relaxes with the film. It may cause a few to nod off. The remaining features are all presented in Standard Definition and kick off with "The Journey Of Rain Man" (22:07). Mixing in scenes from the movie, this documentary has some interviews with primarily the crew, but also Valeria Golino who seems to get lost in the shuffle since she isn't one of the high profile stars of the film. "Lifting The Fog: A Look At The Mysteries Of Autism" (20:13) is setup in a similar fashion to the previous feature, but talks with doctors and people with Autism who inspired the feature film. The feature is a great companion piece to the film. There is one Deleted Scene (2:13) where Raymond strolls into a convenience store on his own along with the film's Original Theatrical Trailer (2:13).

Best Picture. Best Director. Best Actor. Best Original Screenplay. Those four awards pretty much sum up "Rain Man". It is a film that will draw viewers in with a sensitive subject and has inspired other films that are cut from the same cloth ("Forrest Gump", "I Am Sam"). Though the video quality could be a bit stronger, a solid DTS-HD track and great extra features complement this outstanding film on Blu-ray. If you haven't seen "Rain Man" in a while, MGM has given an excuse to pop it into your player once again.