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DUSTIN HOFFMAN AND TOM CRUISE CRUSING THROUGH 'RAIN MAN'

RAIN MAN Year: 1988 Rating: ****

Dustin Hoffman's RAIN MAN character is intentionally annoying since the Barry Levinson Oscar-winning movie's over two-hours of Tom Cruise... as a great-looking swindler who always has an agenda... struggling to connect with his newly-found older brother, hidden away in a plush hospital and, with autism, can do amazing things mathmatically but doesn't understand the basic concept of saying hello, goodbye or really caring about anything or anybody...

Making Cruise equally (though not deliberately) annoying since his Charlie Babbitt, whether angry at his monotone, child-like, uncompromisingly schedule-obsessed sibling or trying to heartfully connect, fails to grasp the extent of his brother’s emotional dissociation... although there's three-million on the line after Charlie's estranged father's death, leaving everything (except the primary 1949 Buick Roadmaster) to Hoffman's Raymond, ironically having no concept of money, something Charlie not only needs desperately but completely lives for...

Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in RAIN MAN

So Tom Cruise holds the primary character-arc, turning in another effectively energetic performance with constant bickering and outbursts through the cross-country/road-movie template that entails Charlie (sometimes with his French girlfriend) driving Raymond to L. A. to contest the will… in a mainstream-produced vehicle with the comparably offbeat charm and obscure songs similar to quirky/colorful 1980's indies like PARIS TEXAS, STRANGER THAN PARADISE and SOMETHING WILD, providing a hybrid of antique jukebox rock and hypnotic, dream-like calypso...

Yet with all Tom's frolicking emotions, the Oscar went to Hoffman, who, although lacking the selfish-to-selfless transition, provides the biggest risk: if his completely unique autistic character (and very few knew of the disease back then) wasn't completely authentic to the audience, all Tom's plot-driving dialogue would be in vain: like with Al Pacino and Marlon Brando in THE GODFATHER, the performance with the primary emotional-arc ultimately plays second fiddle to what was really (in either case) a middle-age method actor's tremendous gamble.

Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in RAIN MAN

Dustin Hoffman "Don't Walk" scene from RAIN MAN
Dustin Hoffman "I'm walking here" homage in RAIN MAN
Lucinda Jenney in RAIN MAN
Tom Cruise in RAIN MAN
Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in RAIN MAN with director Barry Levinson
Valeria Golino and Tom Cruise in RAIN MAN
Valeria Golino and Dustin Hoffman in RAIN MAN
Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in RAIN MAN

Tom Cruise in RAIN MAN

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