Title: Rain Man
Directed by: Barry Levinson
Written by: Barry Morrow, Ronald Bass
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Review by: Bill Jones
Rain Man holds four Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay – and would very likely have won most of them again had it been nominated in any of the years following its 1988 release. It was groundbreaking and working outside the realm of the usual Hollywood formula when it was released, and holds up extremely well today, actually earning more respect with time because of what we as a society have learned about autism.
When Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) loses his father and finds out he has been all but left out of the will, he also learns he has an autistic brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), who has been kept a secret from him for years. As a matter of getting back at his father and trying to use his brother to get the money he wants, Charlie essentially kidnaps Raymond and heads out on a road trip.
But Charlie’s ignorance of autism makes the task more complicated. Soon, the task even becomes unimportant, as Charlie begins to have a change of heart. The condition of his brother helps pull Charlie out of his egocentric world and forces him to start caring for someone other than himself. At the same time, it’s a harsh look at the realities of autism, laced with both comedy and sentiment. It is a joy to watch again and again.
The Blu-ray release from Fox marks the first time Rain Man has been offered in high-definition. It’s a crisp transfer, looking better than the film has on previous releases, but it’s nothing that cries out for another purchase. It’s still got the look of an older film, and probably could have benefitted from some more careful attention. Likewise, the audio finds clarity in the surround-sound mix, but doesn’t do anything special to make it stand out on Blu-ray, and it would have been nice to be immersed more in some of the freak-out moments.
The disc is packed with three commentaries – one by director Barry Levinson, one by writer Barry Morrow, and one by writer Ronald Bass. It’s a shame they couldn’t have been combined, though, as the Levinson commentary in particular is a waste of space, simply rehashing some of the featurette material and going completely silent at other times.
The disc is filled out with a retrospective documentary and a featurette on “The Mysteries of Autism,” as well as a deleted scene and theatrical trailer. Like the commentaries, though, none of it is new material. This continues an unfortunate trend from Fox to simply rehash standard-definition fare from previous releases, rather than giving these high-profile, high-definition updates the content they deserve. Simply put, there’s plenty to enjoy on the Rain Man Blu-ray disc, but such a classic deserves better treatment than Fox is giving it.
For more info, foxmovies.com
Pads & Panels received a copy of the Blu-ray courtesy of the studio for review purposes.
March 30th, 2011 at 12:40 pm
Bill, I agree 5 stars on the film, but not worth the purchase for bluray