I enjoy movies that tell easy-to understand stories, keep the viewer engaged and provide a laugh as well. The stories should include some emotional investment to get behind the hero and root for him/her to triumph in the end. Too much adversity can be emotionally overwhelming to certain viewers so there is a middle-ground to that concept; it all depends on the viewer’s preference and tolerance.
Photo: Myke Simon on Unsplash
This movie is sentimental and innovative for the time it was made because it tells a story of a character with a disability that was not well-known back in 1988, with a feel-good ending to send a positive message. It stars Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, with Dustin Hoffman portraying a severely-disabled man named Raymond. Raymond is diagnosed with low-functioning autism and is taken out of the nursing home he lives in by his younger brother Charlie, played by Tom Cruise. Charlie does this because he looks to exploit Raymond to acquire their father’s inheritance, which has been left to Raymond.
At first, Charlie is judgmental of Raymond for his abnormal behaviors and mocks him. However, after Charlie discovers Raymond’s intelligence in the aspect of his memory with a card game, they go to Las Vegas where Charlie uses Raymond to win money at a casino. I find that scene to be very insulting because it implies that autistic people’s intellect can be manipulated without them being aware of it. It is important to the movie though, because after the casino scenes, Charlie really begins to bond with Raymond.
Towards the film’s conclusion, Charlie and Raymond meet with a legal team to determine who will take care of Raymond going forward. Even though the lawyers misunderstand Raymond and confuse him with their questions, Charlie fortunately advocates for him and the arrangements are figured out. At this point, the most heartwarming moment of the film occurs. Charlie wraps his arm around Raymond’s head and says that he likes having Raymond as his older brother.
This is very symbolic because a lot of people on the autism spectrum are made fun of for their perceived differences and for Charlie to express that kind of genuine support for his brother’s condition shows that the old saying rings true, being different does not have to be a bad thing.
This movie was released in 2001 and while its premise is over-the-top because the characters get involved in situations that would likely not happen in real life, there is one scene that sticks out to me because of how funny it is. For those who may not be familiar, Rat Race is a movie that has some very well-known actors, including British comedian John Cleese, Cuba Gooding Jr., Whoopi Goldberg and comedian Jon Lovitz. John Cleese portrays Donald Sinclair, a businessman who comes up with an idea for a competition that randomly-selected customers of his Las Vegas casino participate in.
The prize of the competition is millions of dollars in a safe in New Mexico and all of the characters in the competition come up with unique and unusual ways to get to New Mexico. There is where the comedy of the film is highlighted; it is ridiculous and hilarious. The part of the film that I chuckle at every time it happens is in the beginning, when Donald Sinclair has his first scene. He enters the boardroom where the main characters are and tells them that a bomb is set to detonate underneath the casino, which will end the world around them and it will up to them to re-populate society.
Because of how believable he is, even though the idea sounds absurd, the characters think he is serious and look scared. Sinclair proceeds to laugh at his own dramatic joke in such a manner that he comes off as over-confident. However, the way the laugh sounds is what makes it so funny, he laughs so hard that his throat starts croaking. He also leans forward and grabs his stomach while pointing his finger at the characters, the body language adds to the hilarity of the scene.
These two movies are completely different from one another in terms of plot and execution. One of them is a classic film that sheds light on a disability that the world has become much more familiar with since the movie came out, while the other is a comedy that features a great laugh by a legendary comedian and other funny scenarios. At the same time, these movies share something in common, they are entertaining and keep the viewer hooked throughout. That is why I enjoy them very much and recommend them.
Michael Westwood is a 25 year old college graduate from Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Independent of being a contributor to Step Up, he is looking to pursue a career in professional writing of some type. His hobbies include watching professional wrestling (e.g. WWE and other promotions) and watching select TV sitcoms from today's television (e.g. Big Bang Theory, The Goldbergs) and classic programs as well (e.g. Seinfeld, Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond). He also has an ongoing online forum designed to inform people about the autism spectrum called "Ask Mike," which is part of an autism awareness group called All 4 Autism, which is based in Florence, South Carolina.