13th May2020

The Life-Affirming Tale of Rain Man

by James Smith

Rain Man, released in 1988, was one of the first on-screen depictions of autism. It is a widely view that this Barry Levinson directed movie has done more for raising the public’s awareness of the disorder than any educational program or PR campaign in history. The Oscar winning film stars Tom Crusie as Charlie Babbit, a narcissistic, self-centred, car dealer who, after learning of the death of his father, discovers that his $3 million dollar estate is going to an unnamed trustee residing at the Wallbroook Institute, a mental hospital that caters for people with special needs. It is here that Charlie first discovers and meets his older brother, Raymond Babbit, played by none other that Dustin Hoffman.

A Tale of Two Brothers

And while this movie raised an incredible amount of awareness thanks to its worldwide popularity, it is at its heart, the story of two estranged siblings who, after a bumpy start, realise that there is nothing more important than family. To start, Charlie Babbit is down on his luck and desperate to get his hands on a piece of his father’s estate. After the Lamborghinis he was planning to sell failed to meet EPA’s emission regulations, they were eventually seized and locked away. This put Charlie in a cumbersome position. He needed the money he was planning on getting for selling the cars to pay back the loan he initially took out to buy the cars. Yes… he is that kind of guy.
“Do you know how much the square root of 2,130 is?”


Charlie decides to kidnap his brother with the ultimate goal of getting his hands on the inheritance money. Following a few chance occurrences, he soon becomes aware of his brother’s incredible memory and number crunching skills. Being the hustler he is, he decides that the only appropriate place to utilise his brother’s ability was in Sin City! They set out on what turns out to be a frustrating journey in order to reach their destination, a blackjack table at a Las Vegas casino. Charlie’s loans are pass due, the cars he is trying to sell are still locked up, and there are some teething issues with getting used to his brother’s quirks. Let’s just say that this adventure would have been a lot easier today thanks to a little something called an online casino!

A Lesson Learnt in Time

What transpires is not simply the story of an road trip to Las Vegas in order to have a good time at a casino, although this most definitely is accomplished, but the realisation in Charlie that there is more to life than the wheeling and dealing of his past. Despite the greedy nature of his primary motivation to get to know his brother, he learns to love his brother as well as how to focus on what is truly important in life. It is this transformation that has won, and continues to win, the hearts of film lovers all over the world.

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