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The Rainmaker
Movie Stats & Links

Starring: Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Mary Kay Place, Mickey Rourke
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Paramount Pictures
Kiddie Movie: A deep story line. Depends on your kid.
Date Movie: Sure.
Gratuitous Sex: No.
Gratuitous Violence: Nope.
Action: Just drama type stuff.
Laughs: Danny DeVito is a pisser.
Memorable Scene: Not really, just most of the movie.
Memorable Quote: Miss Birdie, after telling Rudy she wants to give all of her money to a TV preacher: "He's got a lot of overhead and his jet is getting old."
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Produced By: Michael Douglas, Steven Reuther, Fred Fuchs

The Rainmaker
A Movie Review

MPAA Rated - PG-13

It's 2:15 Long

A Review by
The Dude on the Right

"John Grisham's The Rainmaker" Ahh, the big time, when you can get your own name in the title of a movie. Will it make a movie great? No. Will it bring more people to the theater? It sure won't hurt as most of the movie public are already familiar with past movies adapted from Grisham novels, "The Firm," "The Pelican Brief," and "The Chamber" to name a few, as well as the riveting novels attributed to the author. And you know what else doesn't hurt? Well, enlist the direction of Francis Ford Coppola, bring in the likes of up-and-coming Matt Damon and Claire Danes, and further fill the movie with acting great's like Danny DeVito, Jon Voight, Mickey Rourke, Mary Kay Place, and a whole bunch more. Is "John Grisham's The Rainmaker" a great film? You bet your ass.

The story kinda goes like this - Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) is a fresh out of law school youngin' just looking for a job, and to maybe change the feeling people have about lawyers. Unlike most in his classes with jobs landing at their feet, he has to bust his ass and ends up working for Bruiser Stone (Mickey Rourke), a, well, let's just say if some lawyers give lawyers a bad name then he is one of them. Rudy, who is looking to uphold his moral standards in a field that has seemed to lost them, has a couple of cases lined up before joining Brusier's bunch of ambulance chasers, with his most notable ambulance chaser being Deck Shifflet (Danny DeVito). Bruiser's past catches up to him, and Deck and Rudy are now out of work and set out to begin their own law firm with Rudy as the lawyer (he passes his bar exam on the first try) and Deck as a "paralawyer" (he has failed the bar exam five times). So they're off.

The couple of cases Rudy had lined up are now his to handle. One is a simple re-write of a Will for a delightful old lady, Miss Birdie (Teresa Wright), who ends up becoming both Rudy's landlady but more like his grandmother. However, it is Rudy's other case, versus an insurance company, that most of this story is rotated around, and this is a case that Rudy really has no place in being, until you realize at the end that it is his innocence, his hope in the human spirit, and his moral ground, that makes him, well, not really a good lawyer, but someone who just wants what is right for his client.

The insurance case is pretty simple - A family from a poorer neighborhood has been paying health insurance for years, but when their son, Donny Ray Black (Johnny Whitworth), comes down with leukemia, the big, bad insurance company denies his claim. What is supposed to happen, in the insurance company's eyes, is that Dot Black (Mary Kay Place), Donny's mother, should just accept the insurance company's denial and let her son die. Well, Dot does what she isn't supposed to do and finds a lawyer, in the likes of our hero, Rudy. What comes about is now your typical David versus Goliath episode in the likes of Rudy and Deck versus Leo F. Drummond (Jon Voight) and his way-too-overpaid team of attorneys representing Great Benefit, the insurance company whose benefits are less than great. Guess who wins?

In between you also get a nice love story between Rudy and Kelly Rider (Claire Danes) who gets beat up one too many times by her husband, Cliff (Andrew Shue), for Rudy to stand by and do nothing. She ends up needing a lawyer for her manslaughter charge (Oops, did I give too much away?), and it's Rudy riding his white horse, or rather driving his P.O.S.- mobile (That's "Piece of Shit" for you uneducated types) to the rescue.

Now the end results aren't too hard to figure out in this movie: Rudy and the Blacks win their case, but there is a wrinkle in their winning. Rudy gets the girl. Rudy gets put in the nice old lady's Will. And Deck is back on the street, seemingly chasing a way to pass the bar exam, or maybe to find some more ambulances. But what makes this movie great isn't the "no surprises" ending, it's the fact that for "John Grisham's The Rainmaker" you get a cast of characters playing great roles in a story that Coppola has been able to make all of the intertwining story lines meld into one fantastic film. You might laugh when Deck slams a law book in Drummond's gut, saying "Go memorize it." as he smirkly shows that this guy who keeps failing the bar exam knows more about law than the mega-million dollar lawyer; You might cry when Donny Ray gives the closing statement in the trial, via videotape, because he has already died; and you might cheer when the jury gives the verdict. Then again, you might leave the film wondering just how this "wet behind the ears" lawyer in Rudy could have won this case, and how in the hell the high-priced lawyers missed one key piece of evidence.

This is a great film. You've got lots of drama, a great story about the little guy versus the giant, and some great acting. But, will Coppola be remembered for "John Grisham's The Rainmaker" the way he is remembered for "The Godfather" trilogy or "Apocalypse Now?" I doubt it. There is something about the mob or war that grips the public more than a lawyer. Maybe that's too bad.

With that I'm giving "John Grisham's The Rainmaker" 4 1/2 stars out of 5. If you like a good drama, this is a must see; If you prefer lots of blood, gunfire, explosions, or naked chicks, stay home. No, wait, go see the movie anyway, if for anything, Danny DeVito as Deck.

That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!

 

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