When Rain Man triumphed at the 1989 Academy Awards (eight nods, four wins, including Best picture), Tom Cruise was robbed.
Re-watching Barry Levinson’s mawkish yet captivating road-trip drama 23 years on, it’s obvious that the real star isn’t Dustin Hoffman doing his “Who’s on first?” schtick, but Cruise’s materialistic car salesman Charlie Babbitt.
Hoffman tics and twitches as the latter’s institutionalised brother Raymond, whose multi-million inheritance Charlie is keen to relieve him of.
Arguably, Hoff’s technique is less acting than mimicking, which becomes more apparent after you see the real-life autistic savant on whom he based his performance in doc Lifting The Fog.
Hoffman is very meticulous, no doubt about it. But he barely changes as a character. Instead, it’s Cruise’s subtly judged journey from cynic to carer that we end up empathising with.
No such kudos for this Blu-ray outing, which mostly recycles extras from the 15th anniversary Special edition DVD.
Depressingly, the principal cast are totally absent from the Making Of and three commentary tracks (Levinson and writers Barry Morrow and Ron Bass all go solo). Surely Hoffman could’ve spared 20 minutes from voicing Kung Fu Panda 2?
The disc is also lacking a top-level menu, which means the movie automatically restarts every time an extra ends (grrr). Then there’s the transfer, which has a surprising amount of grit and grain...
With the standard DVD going for under a fiver, you don’t need Raymond’s maths skills to know this doesn’t add up.
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