Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Similar Titles: “The Other Sister”
autistic savant / Autism
anxiety / fear of flying
finding a long lost relative
Should Christians be involved with lotteries or other forms of gambling? Answer
father son estrangement
loss of father
brother brother relationship
self-centeredness turning into love and understanding
Dustin Hoffman … Raymond Babbitt
Tom Cruise … Charlie Babbitt
Valeria Golino … Susanna
Jerry Molen … Dr. Bruner
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The Guber-Peters Company
Mark Johnson … producer
Gerald R. Molen … co-producer
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United Artists Releasing, a subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
In this film, Dustin Hoffman portrays an Autistic Savant whose influence helps his self-centered younger brother to grow up. Hoffman studied and worked very hard to make his character realistic, and was rewarded with Best Actor and Best Picture Oscars.
Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is a hard-driving businessman with a continual chip on his shoulder. When he learns that almost all of his estranged father’s $3 million estate is going to an unnamed person rather than to him, he’s furious; and by following the money trail, he discovers an institutionalized brother, Raymond, that he never knew he had.
Charlie entices Raymond away from the institution and demands that the trustee hand over half the estate; in effect he’s holding his brother for ransom. But as they spend time together and Charlie figures out why he was never told about Raymond, he begins to look at things differently than he did before. By the time the dispute is resolved, both brothers have found something special.
Some real-life Autistics do have special abilities like Raymond’s, such as photographic memory or doing complicated math problems in an instant. No one really knows how or why that happens; but perhaps, just as a computer can do a million internal instructions in the same time as a single disk read or write operation, the inability of Autistics to interact normally with the outside world may free up more of their brain space to perform these feats.
Warnings: Charlie is foul-mouthed, using “F*” early and often. There’s a very brief glimpse of Charlie’s girlfriend as she gets out of the bathtub and puts on her robe. We hear her and Charlie making love under the covers; so does Raymond, who innocently wanders into their bedroom and imitates the noises. At one point Charlie takes Raymond to a Nevada casino and uses him like a computer to count into a six-deck pack of Blackjack cards. Before the brothers are thrown out of the casino, Raymond is approached by a prostitute; of course, he doesn’t know what’s going on since he has no concept of money nor of the things that “normal” people will do for money.
The core story of this film is both entertaining and worthwhile, reminding us to respect everyone as a person regardless of special abilities or special disabilities. But its potential to convey that message to younger children is destroyed by all the unnecessary offensive content. One option is to tape this film from a broadcast or non-premium cable TV showing, where it will be edited for content.
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