Rain Man

Year: 1988
Production Co: United Artists
Director: Barry Levinson
Writer: Barry Morrow/Ronald Bass
Cast: Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, Valeria Golino, Bonnie Hunt
This was the first movie that showed us Tom Cruise could really act. Until the story of a man learning how to love by reconnecting with the mentally disabled older brother he didn't know he had, we'd only seen Cruise in teenage boy's fantasy roles - as a fighter pilot, a fantasy story hero fighting a demon and a cocktail bartender.

The story of Ray and Charlie is pretty simple, but it was so popular many of the scenes and lines are now cinema classics, like the underwear argument and the phone booth fart.

Callow and uncaring Charlie Babbit (Cruise) is trying to keep his head above water importing luxury cars. He's emotionally cut off from his pretty girlfriend Susanna (Golino) thanks to a childhood he now remembers as cruel and cold despite not having contacted his father for years.

When Charlie's informed of his father's death, he travels to where the will's being read out and learns not only that he's received nothing of his father's vast fortune but that the strange little autistic man who starts hanging around is his older brother Raymond (Hoffman), the one getting the money.

Enraged at his father and the world, Charlie takes Raymond off by himself across the country to protest about the money he should be getting.

But while it follows a clichéd character arc (irritating travelling companion teaches hero how to love), it's never schmaltzy and is portrayed with enough realism about the nature of autism to keep it out of Disney territory despite some tear-jerking scenes and plenty of unexpected laughs.

It won a slew of Oscars in 1988 (all of them deserved), but none of them for new hottest actor of his generation. The Hollywood axiom 'you don't go full retard' (by Robert Downey Jr as Kurt Lazarus in Tropic Thunder) would hold until former child star Danny Bonaduce declared after Charlize Theron in Monster that 'ugly is the new retarded'.

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