Rain Man (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
March 1, 2011 by Dennis Amith
The award-winning and top-grossing film of 1988 receives the HD treatment on Blu-ray. While the Blu-ray does feature the same special features of the 2004 special edition DVD release, for those who enjoyed this film will be happy with its better picture and audio quality. Recommended!
Images courtesy of © 2011 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Rain Man
FILM RELEASE DATE: 1988
DURATION: 134 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish Mono, French Dolby Surround, AVC@32MBPS, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
COMPANY: UA/MGM/20th Century Fox
RELEASE DATE: February 15, 2011
Directed by Barry Levinson
Story by Barry Morrow
Screenplay by Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow
Produced by Mark Johnson
Executive Producer: Peter Guber, Jon Peters
Co-Producer: Gerald R. Molen
Associate Producer: David McGiffert
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by John Seale
Edited by Stu Linder
Casting by Louis DiGiaimo
Production Design by Ida Random
Art Direction by William A. Elliott
Set Decoration by Linda DeScenna
Costume Design by Bernie Pollack
Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbitt
Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt
Valeria Golino as Susanna
Gerald R. Molen as Dr. Bruner
Jack Murdock as John Mooney
Michael D. Roberts as Vern
Ralph Seymour as Lenny
Lucinda Jenney as Iris
Bonnie Hunt as Sally Dibbs
Three timeless classics will make their Blu-ray debut on February 15th from MGM Home Entertainment: LAST TANGO IN PARIS: Uncut Version, MOONSTRUCK, and cult favorite RAIN MAN. Collectively nominated for sixteen Academy Awards, these celebrated titles make the perfect additions to any film collection!
Following the death of their father, Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise, Valkyrie) discovers he has an autistic brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie) and now the two are on the cross-country trip of their lives. Nicknamed RAIN MAN, Raymond pushes hot-headed Charlie to the limits of his patience and then pulls him completely out of his self-centered world. But what began as an unsentimental journey for the Babbitt brothers becomes much more than the distance between two places; it’s a connection between two vastly different people and a poignant, profound and powerful film. Among its eight Academy Award nominations, RAIN MAN won Best Picture, Best Actor (Hoffman), Best Director (Barry Levinson, Wag the Dog), and Best Original Screenplay.
Rain Man – Film Clip – Trailer
Rain Man – Film Clip – “4 Minutes to Wapner”
Rain Man – Film Clip – “Cardsharp Savant”
Barry Levinson’s name is well-known these days mostly as a producer but he has directed a good number of films that people are familiar with. Films such as “Sphere”, “Wag the Dog”, “Sleepers”, “Bugsy”, “Toys”, “Avalon”, “Good Morning Vietnam”, “Diner” to name a few. But for one film, Levinson earned his Oscar and that was in 1988 for “Rain Man”. A story by Barry Morrow and a screenplay co-written by Morrow and Ronald Bass (“Snow Falling on Cedars”, “Step Mom”, “My Best Friend’s Wedding”, “Entrapment”, “What Dreams May Come”), the film would also bring together America’s top male actors Dustin Hoffman (“Tootsie”, “Kramer vs. Kramer”, “Ishtar”) and Tom Cruise (“Top Gun”, “Cocktail”, “Risky Business”, “The Color of Money”).
The film which was budgeted at $25 million, earned over $354 million (the film was the highest grossing film of 1988) and would win four Academy awards including “Best Director”, “Best Picture”, “Best Writing, Original Screenplay” and a “Best Actor in a Leading Role” for Dustin Hoffman.
“Rain Man” begins with Charlie Babbit (played by Tom Cruise), a car dealer in Los Angeles who is trying to import grey market Lamborghini’s but also a cocky and abrasive man.
The problem is that the cars are not meeting EPA standards and if he can’t meet the EPA standards, he would have to pay back the money to those who purchased the Lamborghinis from him and he would lose a significant amount of money which he doesn’t have.
As he and his girlfriend Susana (played by Valeria Golino) set out for a trip to Palm Springs for the weekend, he receives a call that his estranged father Sanford Babbit has died. Charlie travels back home to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend his father’s funeral but most importantly to settle his father’s estate.
When he meets with the lawyer, he is told that an undisclosed trustee is inheriting $3 million on behalf of an unnamed beneficiary. As for Charlie, all he gets is his father’s classic Buick Roadmaster convertible (which was the center of why his Charlie left home at an early age) and his father’s prized rose bushes. Eventually, Charlie does some snooping and finds out that the trustee is Dr. Bruner (played by Jerry Molen), a doctor at a mental hospital who won’t tell him who the unnamed beneficiary is.
While Charlie is busy talking to Dr. Bruner, a man gets inside the classic Buick Roadmaster that Charlie had inherited and when Charlie gets to his car and tells the man to get out, the man named Raymond, tells Charlie that he drove that car before thanks to his father, Sanford Babbitt. For the first time, Charlie learns that he has an older brother that no one had ever told him about.
Charlie learns that his brother is autistic but because he is not too aware of what autism is, he walks out with his brother and plans to bring him to Los Angeles in order to find a way in getting the inheritance left to Raymond.
But quickly Charlie learns that Raymond is a handful and that he has daily goals such as eating certain foods on certain days, having the bed near a window, watching “People’s Court “at 11 and “Wheel of Fortune” at a certain time. But as Charlie quickly finds out that his brother will not ride an airplane because he memorized that fatalities on certain airline companies, he refuses to go on a plane.
So now, Charlie and Raymond are force to travel cross country by car from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, while Charlie knows that his business is in jeopardy if he doesn’t get to Los Angeles soon. Charlie feels the importance to find a way to get part of Raymond’s inheritance and it ticks Charlie’s girlfriend off when she sees him talking down to Raymond.
But once the two are left alone to travel the country, Charlie starts to learn overtime that his brother is very good at numbers and is pretty much highly skilled at mathematics but most importantly, he is able to spend a family moment and grow close to the brother he never knew that he had. Will that time between Charlie and Raymond and the relationship they are building change Charlie’s attitude towards his brother?
“Rain Man” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 widescreen). First, its important for me to remind everyone that this is a 1988 film and I’ve always had the opinion that many films from the ’80s tend to have this aged look and sometimes appearances look soft. While for “Rain Man”, the film does show its age in terms of film stock used, this is the best looking version of the film to date.
There is a good amount of grain in this film but there is much more detail and edge enhancement can be seen at times. If anything, the clarity and detail is much more evident in the Blu-ray release and there appears to be some noise reduction utilized as there are some moments of softness. I did see banding in probably two moments of the film where there was high-reds and pinks. It’s a few-seconds scene but other than that, there are times where the picture quality looked very good and you can see the skin pigments on the skin.
Otherwise, if you love the film, “Rain Man” on Blu-ray looks better than its DVD counterparts.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Rain Man” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Mono and French Dolby Surround. While “Rain Man” has always been a dialogue-driven film, it also sports a solid musical soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. If anything, you do hear some ambiance at times but for the most part, this is a center and front-channel driven lossless soundtrack with mostly instruments utilizing the surround channel at times. You do get a scene where you watch Charlie and Raymond driving through a bridge and you can hear the wheels going over the bridge and sound coming through the surround channels but this is pretty much a dialogue-driven film.
Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Rain Man” comes with the following special features in Standard Definition:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Barry Levinson
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by writer Barry Morrow
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by writer Ronald Bass
- The Journey of Rain Man – (22:07) A featurette on the making of “Rain Man” and features interviews with director Barry Levinson and writers Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass.
- Lifting the Fog: A Look at the Mysteries of Autism – (20:13) A featurette about autism and those who are similar to Raymond Babbitt.
- Deleted Scene – (2:13) A deleted scene featuring Raymond at a convenience store (getting into trouble).
- Original Theatrical Trailer – (2:13) Featuring the original theatrical trailer of “Rain Man” in standard definition.
Back in 1988, I was a junior in high school when I watched this film come out. Of course, the film was popular because of Tom Cruise who was the top young actor in Hollywood with the popularity of “Top Gun”, “The Color of Money” and “Cocktail”, but what stood out for me the most was the performance by Dustin Hoffman, the writing of the film and the character relationship between Charlie and Raymond and it was the first time I heard about autism.
Autism, of course, has been focused a lot more in today’s society, may it be on the news or learning about it through television shows, but back then, I’ve never heard of it and I felt that “Rain Man” did increase public awareness for autism.
If one was to dissect this film, I suppose one can say that it was longer than it should have been and could have been tightened a bit more and keeping the duration much lower. I am aware that film critic Pauline Kael called it “wet kitsch” (which is a word that she tends to use for films that she really dislikes) but after watching this film once again since its release for VHS back in the ’90s, my feelings back in the late ’80s, to the ’90s and now 2011 really hasn’t changed all that much.
What I enjoyed about the film is the fact that you get to see Charlie’s arrogance directed towards his brother and to see this character change as he becomes more acquainted with his brother. While some may feel the character of Charlie to be repulsive or overly cocky, the performance by Dustin Hoffman is magnificent. The timing of the words and the motions that went into Raymond’s character was well-done by Hoffman and I enjoyed how the conflict begins at the beginning and slowly works itself towards the end. Of course, the ending may seem a bit too anti-climactic but for what it’s worth, I did not want to see a mushy ending. The ending fits right with Charlie Babbage and everything worked out.
If I had any problems with the film, I still find the scene with Susanna and Raymond in an elevator to be a bit off and as mentioned earlier, there are some scenes that could have been trimmed off to keep the pacing much smoother and the duration not so long.
As for the Blu-ray release, I was hoping for some sort of revisiting special feature and possibly an interview with Tom Cruise or Dustin Hoffman, heck even Barry Levinson. But you do get all the special features from the “Rain Man” 2004 Special Edition DVD and upgraded picture quality and a lossless soundtrack.
Overall, “Rain Man” is still an enjoyable film over 20-years later. While the Blu-ray release may not include anything new compared to its 2004 DVD counterpart, it does look and sound a lot better. So, if you enjoyed “Rain Man” a lot, then I definitely recommend upgrading to Blu-ray.
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