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Overall Rating

Awesome: 30.91%
Worth A Look58.18%
Average: 9.09%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 1.82%

4 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Rainmaker, The (1997)
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by Scott Weinberg

"Wow! A good Grisham movie. What is that now? 2 out of 7?"
4 stars

Quick primer on making a good courtroom drama: Get good actors, have someone who at least knows how to hold a pen work on the screenplay, throw some funny dialogue in, and even give us a few surprises. Simple enough, but then why are most John Grisham adaptations dumber than a stoned Suzanne Somers?

The Client? Um, no.

The Firm? Not terrible, but just really silly.

The Pelican Brief? HA! Julia Roberts plays a lawyer.

The Chamber? Zzzz. Political propaganda posing as a movie.

A Time to Kill? Wait, I liked this one actually.

The Gingerbread Man? I always eat the head first.

So here we have an idealistic young lawyer (Matt Damon) who starts working with a sleazy ambulance chaser (Mickey Rourke!) and a glorified paralegal (Danny DeVito). His only real case involves an evil insurance company which refuses to pay for the medical care of a young man with leukemia. Of course, he realizes he may have bitten off more than he can chew when he butts heads with the company's lead counsel (Jon Voight).

I realize it doesn't sound shockingly original, but there are enough strong touches to make The Rainmaker quite recommendable. Mainly, the performances by Matt Damon, Danny DeVito and Jon Voight, although Mickey Rourke is damn fun in his few scenes. Coppola adapted Grisham's book, and it's a good script. The leukemia angle isn't milked or manipulative, and a good amount of attention is given to the supporting characters, which is essential in a movie like this. (Anyone out there like A Civil Action? Please.)

Yeah, they had to go and throw Claire Danes in there as a battered wife our hero gets to defend. (The abusive husband is played by Andrew Shue. Yes, him. They were smart enough to keep the light away from his face in most scenes, though.) But her scenes are small, and even though her acting skills remind me of pudding, her character is interesting enough. Jon Voight is far and away the scene-stealer, once again. He plays a lawyer so oily and scummy, yet completely charming. Oh yeah, there's also a friendly Danny Glover as the judge.

The Rainmaker is just a simple little courtroom drama, but it's done well. Although the ending may be predictable, the whole movie is just original enough that you'll probably buy the whole thing.

This kind of movie has certainly been done better, but also a hell of a lot worse. It would be watchable enough for the handful of great performances, but the script deserves a lot of credit for avoiding too many clichés and making something this old seem interesting.

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originally posted: 01/01/00 09:51:11
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell very good 4 stars
5/23/09 Monday Morning Very good story & film because key characters played by great actors. Highly recommended!! 5 stars
8/31/08 Shaun Wallner This ones ok. 3 stars
8/22/06 Irwin Lublin I thought that the screenplay, the direction, and the performances were uniformly excellent 5 stars
1/05/06 R.W.Welch Has a rare wry quality in the early going; slowly gets more routine. Pretty fair overall. 4 stars
5/06/05 jordan springer shitty 1 stars
8/17/04 Betty Lewis Enjoyed the movie - unfortunately, the public may actually believe this can happen. 4 stars
10/20/03 John Bale Well directed adaption with excellent performances by Dillon and cast 4 stars
5/22/03 leon %%0qwe very enjoyable!ranks with time to kill for best grisham adaptation!book is better though 5 stars
3/24/03 Jack Sommersby By-the-numbers and impersonal. Still, it's watchable. 3 stars
11/26/02 Charles Tatum One of Coppola's few good recent films 4 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 Highly under-rated; it's gotta be one of Matt Damon's best drama movies of the 90's. 4 stars
2/21/01 Jake Very impressive. Damon should stick to playing modest characters. 4 stars
9/02/00 Rosalie Coleman This movie tugs at your heart. A movie I would purchase fro my home library. 5 stars
6/07/00 TERRIE SMITH Good adaptation of the novel; Danny De Vito walks away with the film 4 stars
4/15/00 Elvisfan Very good, very entertaining, talented/great cast & director 5 stars
3/13/00 Trina Barnard Good movie. Book is better! 4 stars
1/03/00 Lindsey I really enjoyed this movie, another good John Grisham. Matt Damon was great as well! 5 stars
1/02/00 Anthony Burroughs Very good, the best of Grisham movies, Matt was great as always 5 stars
10/08/99 Igor It's bad for great director, but it's nice for unknown one. 3 stars
4/28/99 Matt&Danny Kudos to Matt - much more believeable as a young Memphis lawyer than Tom Cruise (The Firm) 5 stars
3/02/99 Rachel Though I hated the only other Grisham flick I've seen, this one was brilliant 5 stars
2/20/99 Piz Emotional and dark, a look at the underbelly of law and beauracracy. Best Grisham piece. 4 stars
2/19/99 Derek By no means perfect, but well worth your rental. Admit it with me - Matt Damon can act. 4 stars
1/13/99 Melissa It's nothing outstanding, but definitely good. Damon is a great, he IS this movie. 4 stars
11/27/98 Mr.Pink Coppola's best film after Apocalyse Now. 4 stars
10/13/98 tom matt damon at his best---he really fit the memphis boy type---kudos to a boston kid 5 stars
10/06/98 katherine matt matt matt damon damon damon matt matt matt damon damon damon matt matt matt damo...... 5 stars
8/29/98 Mister Whoopee I quite liked this. Thought Damon was great. No arguments, good film. 4 stars
8/29/98 Johny cutting the claire danes subplot would have helped 3 stars
8/26/98 FrankG Would have been better if they didn't use the campy music to accompany Danny DeVito. 3 stars
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  21-Nov-1997 (PG)


  22-Jan-1998 (M)

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