Study Guide

Rain Man

Rain Man Summary

Rain Man starts out being more about a self-centered guy named Charlie Babbitt than the dude referenced in the title—in fact, when we start out, we have zero idea who the "Rain Man" even is. It's all about this money-obsessed yuppie who's trying to make a killing selling Lamborghinis… and isn't very good at it, apparently, since his cars are tied up in a conflict with the EPA and unable to get to their buyers.

Then, Charlie's dad dies, and he and his girlfriend/business associate, Susanna, go back to Cincinnati to settle his dad's estate. Charlie is shocked—and more than a little angry—to learn that his dad left him basically squat. All he got was a car and some rosebushes, and the rest of Father Babbitt's estate was put into a trust for some unnamed person. Charlie had never gotten along with his dad, and this posthumous slap in the face doesn't make him feel any warmer or fuzzier toward the guy.

Charlie starts hunting for this anonymous beneficiary of the trust, and the quest leads him to a hospital called Wallbrook. There, he discovers that his father's money was left to a brother he never knew he had. His name is Raymond, and he'd been entrusted to the hospital's care for years because he was autistic.

Unsurprisingly, Charlie isn't super excited about having a brother, and he doesn't seem terribly patient with Ray's particular challenges. But he decides to use the situation to his advantage and basically kidnap Ray away from the hospital. The goal? Hold him ransom to get the half of the inheritance that he thinks should have gone to him out of Doctor Bruner, who served as the trustee of Ray's money.

We're sure this'll end well.

Ray isn't a big fan of planes, so he and Charlie end up going on an extended road trip back to L.A. Charlie's girlfriend is so disgusted with Charlie's treatment of Ray that she bows out early on and leaves the two of them to their own devices. Charlie has a lot of trouble warming up to Ray at first, especially since he really doesn't understand or have any patience with his brother's special needs, but eventually they end up bonding (particularly when they go to Vegas, and Raymond's gifts come in handy at counting cards).

Through all this, Charlie's desire to have his brother around as a bargaining chip morphs into a desire to have his brother around because he actually cares about him. 

Surprise mushiness, guys.

Charlie becomes less of a jerk, and he manages to find some semblance of a family through Ray. So instead of trying to steal Ray's money, he decides to fight for custody of Ray, even though Doctor Bruner (Ray's physician/trustee back at Wallbrook) thinks it's a terrible idea.

The courts end up agreeing with Doctor Bruner that Ray has too many challenges to live outside of a hospital setting, and Raymond returns to Wallbrook. The bright side? Charlie's total reformation from a greedy, kidnapping toolbox to a loving brother.

Turns out you don't need a woman to reform a rake.

  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • The film begins with skyline shot and a car being cabled across the screen.
    • Wait, is that a toy? Nope, it's a real car.
    • The sky is really smoggy, and we quickly learn this is Los Angeles.
    • Ooh, look, it's Tom Cruise! He's watching some men lower the car (which is a Lamborghini).
    • He checks out that car, as well as some others, and then rides away in what is definitely not a Lambo. So, he clearly doesn't have buckets of money himself.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • Now, Cruise, aka Charlie Babbitt, is back at his "shop" and on the phone talking about the Lamborghinis. He needs to get his money from selling the cars, but there's apparently a problem and he's arguing with some dude named Lenny.
    • Apparently, the EPA is keeping the cars off the road because of problems with emissions. Remember that first shot with all the smog?
    • Yeah, well, we suppose that's why they don't want smoke gushing cars like Lambos out there.
    • A woman working in the office asks Charlie if they want to go to Palm Springs, given all that's going on with the cars.
    • Charlie says that yes, they're going to go.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • Now Charlie and the woman, Susanna, are in the car, and she wants to get him to talk on the way to the hotel in Palm Springs.
    • She doesn't like being excluded from his thoughts.
    • They get a call from Lenny, who says that a lawyer has been trying to reach him.
    • His father has died, and the funeral is in Cincinnati tomorrow.
    • Then Susanna gets her wish about getting Charlie to talk, as he goes into his family history.
    • Apparently, his mom died a long time ago, and he and his dad never got along.
    • Susanna says she'll go with him to the funeral.
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • Charlie and Susanna go to the funeral, and then they go to talk with the lawyer.
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • Now Charlie is back at his father's house looking at a car that his father had owned. Charlie had only gotten to drive it once.
    • Then, the scene cuts to inside the house, where we can hear a woman talking, but it's kind of faint/in the background as Susanna and Charlie look around.
    • Soon, we realize the voice is Susanna's, and comes from a later moment as she's looking at family photos.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • In the next scene, Charlie tells Susanna the story of the only time he drove the car—with no permission (don't try this at home, kids).
    • He felt entitled because he did well in school, but his dad had said no.
    • He apparently got pulled over, and his dad let him stew in jail for two days.
    • Susanna is shocked this is the first time she's heard this story—again, she seems pretty hung up on Charlie's refusal to tell her stuff.
    • He also tells the story of how when he was a kid, he had an imaginary protector named the Rain Man, who would sing to him when he was scared.
    • It's raining outside at that moment, so perhaps it's only natural to be thinking about that.
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • Now Charlie is with the family lawyer, who is reading a letter from his father. Apparently, his father was still pretty miffed that Charlie abandoned him, but he wishes him the best.
    • He leaves him the Buick that caused a rift in their relationship, as well as some rose bushes. However, the rest of Daddy Babbitt's stuff (including the dough) is going in a trust for an unnamed person. Hmm, mysterious…
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • In the next scene, Charlie says he got what he expected, but he's pretty eager to find out the identity of this trustee who got all the family loot.
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • Charlie's investigation leads him and Susanna to a place called Wallbrook, which appears to be a hospital/care facility for adults who are unable to care for themselves.
  • Scene 10

    Scene 10

    • Now Susanna and Charlie are inside Wallbrook looking around.
  • Scene 11

    Scene 11

    • Now Charlie is talking to the head of Wallbrook, who apparently is in control of the trust his father left.
  • Scene 12

    Scene 12

    • Back outside, a man named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) is in the car with Susanna, saying he's an excellent driver and had driven that car before.
    • Wait, what? Charlie's father let some rando drive the car he denied to Charlie?
    • Not quite—it seems that Raymond is Charlie's brother. A brother that Charlie never knew he had.
    • Charlie comes out and discovers the connection.
  • Scene 13

    Scene 13

    • Back inside the hospital, Charlie learns that Raymond is autistic, and gets some deets on what that means in terms of Raymond's daily life/needs.
    • For example, we learn that Raymond needs routines, and he doesn't understand the concept of money.
  • Scene 14

    Scene 14

    • In his room, Raymond is doing the Abbott and Costello bit "Who's on First" to deal with the fact that Charlie is touching all his stuff—which he finds really stressful.
    • Charlie gives him a hard time about reading Shakespeare, and then suggests taking a walk.
    • Ray wants to get back in time for Jeopardy, but he's coaxed out the door.
  • Scene 15

    Scene 15

    • Charlie wants Susanna to take the car down to the gate and wait for him.
    • Then, Ray and Charlie go to sit by the pond and look at ducks.
    • They discuss going to a baseball game in L.A. together.
  • Scene 16

    Scene 16

    • Ray and Charlie leave the property and start driving back to Los Angeles.
    • Wait, is Charlie allowed to do that? We think not…
  • Scene 17

    Scene 17

    • Now they are at a hotel in the presidential suite.
    • Ray is not super happy to be in a new place, and he is insisting that 6:30 is dinnertime. Then he reads the telephone book, and later he knocks over a lamp.
    • Meanwhile, Charlie is fretting about getting in touch with Lenny and losing 200k.
    • Charlie orders pizza, and gets pepperoni even though Susanna doesn't want it.
    • Raymond is going on about watching Wheel of Fortune.
  • Scene 18

    Scene 18

    • Later, we see Raymond hanging out in his bed, post dinner, snacking on some chips.
    • He hears Charlie and Susanna having sex and starts making honking noises in response. He walks all the way into Charlie's room and sits down on the bed—yes, still while Susanna and Charlie are having sex.
    • Once they realize Raymond is in there, Charlie freaks out.
    • Susanna tells Charlie that Raymond is scared and Charlie should go talk to him.
    • Instead of being comforting, though, Charlie gets mad and goes in to yell at Raymond for interrupting their sexytimes.
    • Here's a hint, Charlie—close the door next time.
  • Scene 19

    Scene 19

    • Charlie goes back into his bedroom, and Susanna is in the bath.
    • She confronts him about his motivations for taking Raymond from the hospital, since Charlie had clearly lied about Dr. Bruner advocating it.
    • Charlie explains that he is basically keeping Raymond until he gets his half of the inheritance his father left only to Raymond.
    • Susanna gets mad and starts packing to leave.
  • Scene 20

    Scene 20

    • Now Charlie and Raymond are at a diner, and Raymond remembers the waitress's telephone number from having read the phone book last night when they gave it to him to calm him down.
    • Charlie gets mad at Raymond for obsessing about pancakes and tells him not to act like a "retard."
    • Real class act, this Charlie.
    • Raymond starts writing in his journal.
    • He writes that Charlie hurt his neck.
  • Scene 21

    Scene 21

    • Charlie then gets on a payphone and talks to Dr. Bruner while Raymond wanders around looking for toothpicks.
    • The toothpick box spills, and Raymond accurately surmises that there are 246 toothpicks on the floor.
    • Whoa, he can remember a bazillion telephone numbers and count toothpicks that accurately/quickly just from watching them spill?
    • Impressive.
  • Scene 22

    Scene 22

    • Now they are in the car and Raymond is talking like a DJ.
  • Scene 23

    Scene 23

    • Charlie is talking to Lenny, and they're having a disagreement about the cars.
  • Scene 24

    Scene 24

    • Now Charlie and Raymond are getting on a plane to go back to L.A., but Raymond is freaked out because they're flying an airline that had crashed in the past.
    • They try to find an airline that didn't, but that proved impossible.
    • When Ray starts screaming, Charlie finally agrees to forego the plane plan, and they get on the road to drive from Cincy to LA.
  • Scene 25

    Scene 25

    • While they're on the road, they encounter a roadblock around an accident on the highway, and Raymond gets out of the car, freaked out.
    • Charlie agrees to get off the highway and drive on a smaller (i.e., safer, in Raymond's eyes) road, but Raymond refuses to get in the car until Charlie is able to pull off the highway and onto the exit and walks that entire distance himself.
    • Charlie is not happy.
  • Scene 26

    Scene 26

    • They stop overnight in Missouri and have to stay there longer than Charlie would like because Ray won't go out when it rains.
    • They spend the day there while Charlie makes phone calls and begrudgingly takes care of Ray's needs.
    • He arranges a custody hearing for Ray with a lawyer.
    • Ray watches TV.
  • Scene 27

    Scene 27

    • Raymond and Charlie are in the car.
    • Raymond grabs the wheel (disturbing Moment #1) and announces he's not wearing underwear (disturbing Moment #2), having refused the briefs that Charlie lent him.
    • They talk about going to Kmart to get underwear.
  • Scene 28

    Scene 28

    • They arrive in a small town and go to find a psychiatrist.
    • Charlie goes to use the pay phone, and as he's doing that, he sees Ray has wandered away from the car.
    • He finds him playing in traffic.
  • Scene 29

    Scene 29

    • Charlie takes him to the doctor, and the nurse there doesn't seem to know about autism. Once Charlie and Raymond get seen, the doctor tries to counsel Charlie on how to deal with his brother.
    • The doctor claims that he doesn't know much about autism, but he wants to know if Ray has special abilities.
    • Charlie tells him about the toothpicks.
    • They start quizzing him on math.
    • They discover that Raymond can't do basic things like estimate the cost of a candy bar, but he's got exceptional mathematical abilities in other ways. The doctor asks Ray if he's autistic, and he says he doesn't think so.
  • Scene 30

    Scene 30

    • Charlie is back on the phone arguing with the office about cars, and Ray's in the phone booth too—good thinking, Charlie.
    • They also talk about the custody hearing that Charlie's been setting up in LA for Ray. Ray is freaking out in the booth because it's time for Wapner, and they aren't watching.
  • Scene 31

    Scene 31

    • They are back on the road, and they stop at a farmhouse.
    • Charlie tells Raymond to look normal so they can get into the house and watch Wapner. When a woman answers the door to the house, Charlie pretends to be part of the Nielsen Corporation so they can get in and watch Wapner.
    • The woman slams the door on them, and the kids come to the window to watch Ray freak out.
    • Charlie then explains the real deal to the woman, and she agrees to let them in.
    • Raymond watches his program while Charlie uses the phone.
  • Scene 32

    Scene 32

    • Now the Babbitt brothers are back on the road.
    • They stop at a hotel, Charlie's credit card gets rejected, so he pays cash for the night. Ray is back to obsessing over that "Who's on First" routine, trying to figure out who is, in fact, on first.
    • Charlie says that if Ray could just figure out that the bit is part of a comedy routine, not a riddle, he might get better.
  • Scene 33

    Scene 33

    • In this scene, Charlie figures out that Raymond was, in fact, the "Rain Man" from his youth that he had thought was imaginary.
    • They have a nice moment singing the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There." However, then Raymond freaks out when Charlie turns on the bath tap, saying that "hot water burn baby."
    • Apparently, Raymond was involved in an incident with hot water and a baby (i.e., Charlie), and that's why he went away—he had accidentally hurt Charlie.
    • Charlie helps him get ready for bed.
    • Parlez-vous a turning point in their relationship?
    • And maybe the movie in general?
  • Scene 34

    Scene 34

    • Charlie calls Susanna, and she seems receptive to hearing from him (or at least, she doesn't hang up).
  • Scene 35

    Scene 35

    • Now we get a travel montage!
  • Scene 36

    Scene 36

    • Now Raymond and Charlie are in a laundromat, and Raymond is watching the dryer. They talk about whether Ray will go back to Wallbrook.
    • Charlie calls Lenny.
    • It doesn't go well—apparently the cars have been repossessed (and the people who had originally bought them want their money back)—and he goes outside and kicks rocks. They get back on the road.
  • Scene 37

    Scene 37

    • Now they are at a store, and Charlie is trying to get Ray to put on sunscreen because he insists on having the top down.
  • Scene 38

    Scene 38

    • The trip continues! They are in a diner, and Charlie realizes Raymond has memorized the entire jukebox at their booth.
    • Charlie is getting excited, and he takes Ray outside to look at cards… and realizes his brother can count them.
  • Scene 39

    Scene 39

    • They're back on the road, and Charlie coaches Ray on how to not get caught counting cards.
  • Scene 40

    Scene 40

    • Now Raymond and Charlie are in Vegas, and it's montage time again!
    • They go get suits and then enter the casino in what is now a famous shot of them coming down the escalator looking like twinsies.
    • They walk through the casino, and then they settle in to play blackjack.
    • They're doing so well that they catch the eye of the security team, who start watching the Babbitt brothers.
    • Then Ray wanders away to a roulette wheel.
    • They discuss him cashing out.
  • Scene 41

    Scene 41

    • Now the brothers are at a bar, and Charlie is celebrating being free and clear of his debts. Ray is staring at a woman's necklace.
    • We soon learn the woman's name is Iris.
    • Charlie goes away, and the woman comes over and tries to pick Ray up. She's clearly a hooker.
    • Charlie comes back and tries to protect Ray, but Ray says he wants to stay and get to know that girl.
    • He tells her they're counting cards, and then asks her if she's taking prescription meds. She gets annoyed and leaves.
  • Scene 42

    Scene 42

    • They go back to the room. They talk. Charlie apologizes for being short, and he is thankful that Ray helped him.
    • They talk about teaching Ray how to dance for a date that Ray believes he has with Iris.
    • Charlie teaches Ray how to dance.
    • He tries to hug him afterwards, though, and Ray freaks out.
  • Scene 43

    Scene 43

    • Susanna shows up at the door—yay, the whole team is back together!
    • Then, Ray watches TV, and Charlie fills Susanna in on what he and Ray have been up to in Vegas.
    • Unsurprisingly, she doesn't approve of the fact that Charlie is using Raymond's gift to count cards.
    • Then, Raymond says he has a date with Iris and needs to get down to the bar.
  • Scene 44

    Scene 44

    • They go down to the bar for Ray's date at 10:00. Ray keeps an eye on his watch, but Iris doesn't show.
  • Scene 45

    Scene 45

    • Charlie gets called over to Mr. Kelso, head of security. They accuse him of illegal activities, but they say they're willing to just let him take his winnings if he'll leave right now.
  • Scene 46

    Scene 46

    • Susanna and Ray go up to the hotel room when Iris doesn't show up, and she tries to comfort him.
    • She stops the elevator and asks him to show her how he was going to dance with Iris.
    • She asks if he's ever kissed a girl, shows him how to do it, and then kisses him.
    • Then, he picks back up with his portable TV, watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance.
  • Scene 47

    Scene 47

    • The trio is leaving the hotel, and they let Ray drive out of the hotel and around the fountains.
    • Then, they switch.
    • They drop Susanna off at her apartment.
    • She thanks Ray for their date in the elevator.
  • Scene 48

    Scene 48

    • Back at Charlie's house, the brothers are settling in.
    • Ray does the "Who's on First" thing because he's stressed out.
  • Scene 49

    Scene 49

    • Charlie and Ray watch the "Who's on First" sketch.
  • Scene 50

    Scene 50

    • Doctor Bruner leaves a message for Charlie, and Charlie gets on the phone with him to discuss Ray's psych evaluation.
  • Scene 51

    Scene 51

    • Now Charlie is meeting with Bruner about Ray's case.
    • Bruner tries to give Charlie 250k to just walk away.
    • He thinks Raymond is unable to live outside the hospital.
    • He's trying to get Charlie to see what's best for Raymond.
    • Charlie wonders why no one told him about Raymond—he understands getting cut out of the will, but not that.
  • Scene 52

    Scene 52

    • Back at home, Ray is trying to get stuff to eat, but he's having trouble with the toaster oven.
    • He sets it on fire by accident while trying to make waffles, and chaos ensues when the smoke alarm goes off and Ray freaks out.
    • Charlie wakes up and turns off the alarm and the toaster and tries to calm Ray down.
  • Scene 53

    Scene 53

    • Now things are all hunky-dory, and Ray and Charlie are out at a restaurant and joking around.
  • Scene 54

    Scene 54

    • Ray and Charlie go to the psych evaluation.
    • The doctor asks Raymond how he spent his week.
    • He tells them. Dr. Bruner is there, too.
    • They talk about the kidnapping and discuss how Charlie's basically done a 180 in terms of his attitude about his brother.
    • They discuss what Raymond might want.
    • Charlie disagrees with the doctors regarding what Ray is capable of deciding for himself. Raymond says he wants to stay with Charlie, but he also says he wants to go to Wallbrook.
    • He clearly doesn't understand that those things are mutually exclusive, and he starts to get upset with the badgering.
    • So, the conclusion is that the doctors are right, and Raymond can't live on his own.
    • The doctors leave to discuss Raymond's care, and Charlie and Ray talk and say goodbye. They butt foreheads, and Charlie gives him a kiss. He says he likes having Ray for his big brother—it's super sweet.
    • Ray calls Charlie his main man.
    • Our hearts are melting… or breaking. It's hard to tell.
  • Scene 55

    Scene 55

    • Charlie and Ray go to the train station so that Raymond can depart back to Wallbrook with Doctor Bruner.
    • The doctor talks to Ray about Kmart, and then gets on the train to give them a minute. They load Raymond on the train to say goodbye.
    • Ray wanders away without saying goodbye, but Charlie calls him back.
    • They say goodbye again (ish), and the train pulls out.