Movie Review

The Rainmaker

Reviewed by: Dave Rettig
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
145 min.

Starring: Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Danny DeVito, Jon Voight, Teresa Wright, Mary Kay Place, Mickey Rourke, Virginia Madsen, Andrew Shue, Johnny Whitworth, Red West / Director: Francis Ford Coppola / Released by: Paramount Pictures

Francis Ford Coppola brings to life John Grisham’s The Rainmaker. The injustices of a major health insurance corporation and the struggle of a neophyte attorney are the centerpieces to this novel gone motion picture. Matt Damon plays the fresh-out-of-law-school attorney, Rudy Baylor. He is joined by Danny DeVito a.k.a. Deck Shifflet, a streetwise lawyer wannabe. Together DeVito and Damon represent a newly formed partnership handling their first case. The case is the denial of medical coverage to Donny Ray Black (Johnny Whitworth), a young leukemia victim. Another David and Goliath story played out in the courtroom.

Novels often suffer in translation to the big screen and The Rainmaker is no exception. The complexities of the storyline are often simplified to focus on a single thread of novel. Throughout “The Rainmaker”, one can detect the interplayings of these various stories; however, without the depth that a book provides all we get is the sense that there is more to this story. The other effect is the characters often seem two dimensional, more caricatures than people.

“The Rainmaker” contains profanity, violence, and mature subject matter, including terminal illness and wife battery. The profanity is mild. The violence is very bloody, very realistic, and of a very disturbing nature. “The Rainmaker” touches upon issues that cannot be treated lightly (domestic violence, justifiable manslaughter, terminal illness); however, this movie does nothing to shed new light on any of these subjects. Keep the kids at home.

If courtroom drama is your cup of tea, you will enjoy “The Rainmaker” (and I would recommend reading the book). Otherwise you will not miss anything by passing on this movie.

Year of Release—1997

Viewer Comments
There was a limited amount of violence and bad language. The plot was orchestrated very well and the actors did a great job. I personally enjoyed it and would recommend it.
—Shawn Kennedy
I’ve read the book and seen the movie, and I don’t think there’s anything Christian about Grisham’s continued glamorization of the legal profession—all of his books have been “PG-13” or “R” movies, not “PG.” Rudy Baylor may be moral, but he’s not a churchgoer (according to the book) and he’s extremely unethical to be practicing law without a net. As for the domestic-abuse subplot, Russell Crowe’s zero-tolerance cop from “LA Confidential” got the job done better. Very disappointing.
—Brian, age 24
I loved [The Rainmaker]! Superb performances (Roy Scheider and Randy Travis were good in their small roles with a comforting amount of humor). Though [some people] thought they left out a lot of the “mother’s will” storyline, [some] feel it was the best of the Grisham movies and obviously (with its $27m gross to date), a lot of people agree…
—Zack, age 16
While “Rainmaker” has some profanity and violence, I find it a movie suitable for adults who are interested in justice for the little guy(s). The idea of big man vs. little man is always an issue in our world, and it’s uplifting to find incidents in which the underdog comes out on top. There is no adultery here although there is sufficient time/place for it to happen, and that’s new in films today. And though it is “David and Goliath” again, what’s wrong with the David and Goliath story? Keep young kids at home, but don’t miss this movie. It'll just make you feel good.
—Jerome Bush, age 45
…The Rainmaker is a well-made oscar-worthy film. It is well-acted and entertaining. This is perhaps one of the greatest quality films you will see this year. There is a wholesome quality John Grisham has that comes through in his stories. I know for a fact that he is a Christian and I believe that he deserves to be supported for what he does. “The Rainmaker” is a shining triumph that good quality movies can and are being made in Hollywood.
—Peter Wright, age 21