Rain Man Movie Poster Image

Rain Man



Drama about autistic savant has profanity, mature themes.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 134 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

It takes time to get there, but Charlie learns tolerance, understanding, and love of the brother he never knew he had, a brother who is an autistic savant. 

Positive role models

While there are no real positive role models, Charlie begins to emerge as someone who learns empathy, tolerance, and understanding of his brother's condition and, through this growing understanding, becomes a more considerate and less greedy person. 


There are some intense scenes in which Raymond becomes distressed, prone to horrific screams and near-violent outbursts.


Raymond walks in on his brother having sex with his girlfriend. Brief shot of a female breast, lots of passionate moaning. 


Frequent use of "f--k." Charlie Babbitt calls his brother Raymond, an autistic savant, "f---in' retarded" and calls him "retarded" in another instance. "Dips--t," "bulls--t," "s--t," "goddammit," "sucks." 


Qantas Airlines, People's Court, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Buick, Hanes, and Kmart are mentioned and frequently repeated by Raymond.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Plenty of cigarette smoking. Some drinking. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Rain Man is a 1988 movie in which a selfish and greedy sports-car salesman (played by Tom Cruise) discovers, in the wake of his father's death, that he has a brother he never knew he had, a brother who is an autistic savant (played by Dustin Hoffman). This movie contains some strong language, including frequent use of "f--k," and two instances of Cruise's character calling Hoffman's character "retarded" and "f--kin' retarded." There are some intense scenes in which Raymond becomes distressed, prone to horrific screams and near-violent outbursts. There's a scene where sex is insinuated (moaning and movement under the sheets) and a brief glimpse of a breast. Prostitution is alluded to. Cruise's character smokes cigarettes. This movie deals with mental health issues, though it requires little understanding of these issues on the part of a young viewer; characters possess the same ignorance and biases a child is likely to have.

What's the story?

When yuppie misanthrope Charlie Babbit's father dies, he leaves most of his fortune to his autistic, institutionalized son Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), the brother Charlie (Tom Cruise) never knew he had. Charlie kidnaps Raymond from a mental institution, and they travel across the country in search of a new home and a new intimacy. Exquisitely photographed by John Seale, the first half of the film is an austere road movie, with the American West as a backdrop and Cruise and Hoffman playing off one another like old pros. Things become more complex when Charlie realizes that long-forgotten events from his childhood are locked inside Raymond's photographic memory.

Is it any good?


RAIN MAN is a quiet, understated gem of a film, one that richly rewards the patient viewer with an unforgettable emotional experience. Many films that depict those with mental or physical disabilities exploit the character's handicap for quick-fix audience sympathy. Rain Man never indulges in this. Despite it being responsible for autism becoming part of the common vernacular, the film does not dwell on the affliction's parlor-trick-like aspects.

Instead, we follow the ups and downs of Raymond's relationship with Charlie and with the world at large. Each success is followed by a setback, until we begin to question how we define "success." Charlie longs for Raymond to change but gradually, subtly, changes the terms with which he loves him. The film refuses to take the easy way out by demonizing institutions of mental health. In the end, we are left to wonder what is best for Raymond and whether or not Charlie is any less emotionally isolated than his brother.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about issues surrounding mental health. Should we expect people who have trouble communicating with others to adjust or accept mentally ill people as they are? Are mentally ill people sick and in need of a cure? Are the doctors at the mental hospital as compassionate and well-meaning as Charlie?

  • In the time since this movie was released, what has changed in society's understanding of mental health and mental illness? If this movie were released today, how do you think it would be different?

  • When this movie was released, Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. What do you think would be the challenges for an actor playing someone who is an autistic savant? What kind of research do you think would go into learning and rehearsing for this role? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 16, 1988
DVD/Streaming release date:February 3, 2004
Cast:Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
Director:Barry Levinson
Character strengths:Compassion
Run time:134 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, sex scene, brief nudity

This review of Rain Man was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 15 years old Written bychristian-movie... February 10, 2010

Great, heart-warming movie. Beware of language. Sexual content should not be an issue.

I loved this movie. It is so heart-warming. It is about an autistic man and his brother who takes care of him and finds the true meaning of brotherly love. No violence what-so-ever. The language although is pretty bad. Several uses of f*ck and its variations. G**d*mn is also used several times. Many other uses of other milder profanities. One highly sexual situation. You hear moaning and other noises. You then see sexual movement under a blanket. A woman is in a bathtub and gets out although you do not see any nudity. She is then wearing pants and an unbuttoned shirt with no bra on. You may be able to see glimpses of her breasts. Although the glimpses are so short time-spanned that you could blink to miss it.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written byBestPicture1996 April 17, 2009

If Cruise didn't swear so much, this'd be PG-13

Very good movie and deserved Best Picture in '88. Dustin Hoffman's performance was incredibly well done as well.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byBlue_Spiderberry May 9, 2009
What other families should know
Too much sex


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?