Summary of "Rain Man"

by Daniel Fox

Barry Levinson's "Rain Man" won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1988. Dustin Hoffman also took home his second Best Actor Oscar. The film tells the story of an autistic man, played by Hoffman, and his relationship with his brother, played by Tom Cruise. Valeria Golino co-stars as Cruise's girlfriend. The film also took home Oscars for Best Screenplay and Best Director.

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Sanford Babbitt

Charlie Babbitt (Cruise) is a Los Angeles businessman headed to Palm Springs for vacation with his girlfriend. On the way, he receives word that his long estranged father has died. He travels back to Ohio to hear the reading of his father's will. Hearing that the majority of his father's financial estate is not going to him, he investigates further. He meets the brother he never knew existed, the autistic Raymond Babbitt (Hoffman).

Getting the Money

Charlie kidnaps Raymond from the institution he is living in and embarks on a road trip back to Los Angeles in the Buick his father left him. His girlfriend Susanna comes along. Charlie's plan is to recoup a good portion of the money by using Raymond as a form of bait. The institution wants Raymond back, and Charlie wants his share of his father's money.

Toothpicks

The three embark on a road trip to Los Angeles. After an argument, Susanna leaves, and Charlie and Raymond head on by themselves. Charlie's impatience with his brother's condition is prominent throughout passages of the film. Charlie has an agenda, and his resentment toward his deceased father has overshadowed any bond with his newly discovered sibling. During a random moment at a restaurant, a box of toothpicks falls to the floor. In a glance, Raymond correctly assesses the number of toothpicks on the floor. Charlie learns that his brother is a savant.

Counting Cards

As the brothers approach Nevada, Charlie realizes Raymond's talents could prove useful in a casino. He teaches him blackjack and instructs him to count cards. The brothers enter Caesar's Palace and win a great deal of money. Later, Raymond inadvertently reveals to a woman that he and his brother have been counting cards. The casino's management kicks Charlie and Raymond out of the casino. The two leave Las Vegas and finally arrive in Los Angeles.

Hot Water Burn Baby (Spoiler)

During the trip, Charlie recalls through an incident in the bathtub at the motel they are staying at that Raymond is actually the "Rain Man" of his youth. He remembered this figure as a kind of imaginary friend, but he realizes it was Raymond, before his father sent him to the institution. This sparks true emotion in Charlie: For the first time, he feels love for his new-found sibling. As the film ends and Raymond rides away on a train, Charlie recognizes the existence of something he thought he had lost, or never had: a family.

About the Author

A novelist and essayist, Daniel Fox has been writing since 1996. His work has appeared in various international periodicals. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Photo Credits

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