I saw this movie three times in the movie theaters because I truly felt there was something wrong with me for not liking this film. But this film didn't work for me on several different levels. First and foremost, I never bought into the relationship between Raymond (Hoffman) and Charlie Babbitt (Cruise). And by saying that, I mean to say that the depth of Cruise's character was never truly explored. I knew him as a whiny get rich quick salesman and nothing more. One moment Charlie is using Raymond for his own personal gain as a card counter in Vegas, then he's defending him to the Therapist played very annoyingly by Levinson as the end? Granted, we have to give up some things in order to deliver a movie that isn't six hours long, but I felt that leap was too big to take. And I found no entertainment in the fact that Charlie used Raymond's autism for personal gain. I don't see that as some kind of "he doesn't have a disability at all" kind of message one bit and actually find it somewhat offensive.
Second, I'm over the 'challenged person equals Oscar gold' roles. In my opinion, anyone can play someone to some extreme. We cheer for performances given by Brad Pitt in Twelve Monkey's and Leo DiCaprio in What's Eating Gilbert Grape because they are A-Typical roles but to me they are just window dressing in absence of a true character. No doubt what Raymond had was an extreme case of autism. If Hoffman really wanted to give an impressive performance, he should have played someone with a mild case of autism where it only displays itself in certain instances. To me, that would be a much harder role and much more deserving of the Oscar that he was given. I'll take Hoffman in Kramer Vs. Kramer any day of the week because I believe it's much harder to display true human emotion, or at least show some kind of restraint, than to hide behind the most extreme cases of a social anxiety. And while I'm on the subject, I'm also over beautiful people making themselves ugly to strike Oscar gold. That means you Charlize. It's roles like these that give us God awful movies like I Am Sam and Nell.
Rain Man felt like the Hollywood Machine at it's worst. It felt like maybe there was a good script that began about two brothers that never really connected and some Hollywood Executive came in and said, that's boring unless you make one of the brother's have some kind of terminal disease or some extreme disability. Instead, they should have just created a script that truly explored the reasons why siblings who share every waking hour when they're young can somehow become strangers over the years. To me that would have been interesting. But instead, I got a cop out. I got Rain Man.