: : : The Rainmaker

Story

When viewed from a cranky perspective, this by-the-book David vs. Goliath story doesn't offer any surprises, and it's a bit sad to watch director Francis Coppola (who also adapted John Grisham's bestseller) squandering his once-glorious talent on such conventional Hollywood fare. In a more charitable light, however, there's great pleasure to be found in Coppola's intelligent, no-nonsense handling of a plot that's every bit as involving as it is formulaic. Coppola also knows how to bring out the best in a stellar cast, and this is the movie (released in November 1997, just a few weeks before Good Will Hunting) that signaled Matt Damon's arrival as a major-league star. Damon plays Rudy Baylor, a young rookie lawyer in Memphis (location of many Grisham stories) who takes on a powerful insurance company (led by a sharklike lawyer played by Jon Voight) by representing the family of a boy who was denied potentially life-saving treatment for leukemia. Rudy also comes to the rescue of an abused wife (Claire Danes) and learns the tricks of the legal trade from a seasoned paralegal (Danny DeVito), who sees Rudy as his ticket out of the sleazeball practice run by a shady lawyer (Mickey Rourke). There's no mystery about where this plot is going, but Coppola takes us there in high style with a sharp script, and Damon strikes just the right note of naivete and strategic intelligence. When Goliath inevitably falls, this courtroom David wins fair and square. --Jeff Shannon

DVD Features

  • Color
  • Closed-captioned
  • Widescreen
  • Dolby

Cast

Matt DamonRudy Baylor
Danny DeVitoDeck Shifflet
Claire DanesKelly Riker
Jon VoightLeo F. Drummond
Mary Kay PlaceDot Black
Dean StockwellJudge Harvey Hale
Teresa WrightColleen 'Miss Birdie' Birdsong
Virginia MadsenJackie Lemancyzk
Mickey RourkeBruiser Stone
Andrew ShueCliff Riker
Red WestBuddy Black
Johnny WhitworthDonny Ray Black
Roy ScheiderWilfred Keeley
Randy TravisBilly Porter
Danny GloverJudge Tyrone Kipler

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Producer: Paramount
  • Length: 135 min
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaNov 21, 1997
  • Ratings
    North AmericaPG-13
    Europe15
    AustraliaM
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaJan 7, 2003
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4.0 / 10
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