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The Rainmaker DVD
Your May 2007 Random Movie Club Results Are In!

Tagline: They were totally unqualified to try the case of a lifetime... but every underdog has his day.

First He Made the Mafia Sympathetic. Now Coppola's At It Again, This Time With An Even Less Savory Group. Lawyers.

This month's Preshow Entertainment was AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE TO BRIAN WILSON. We didn't get to watch much of it, and knew the best parts were the ones we didn't get to see.

Shot at resplendent Radio City Music Hall and featuring audience members from Matthew Modine to Ana Gasteyer , you couldn't help but feel the excitement in the air. The show began with The Boys Choir of Harlem doing OUR PRAYER. Then, out came Ricky Martin. You heard me. Anyway, he did CALIFORNIA GIRLS and HELP ME RHONDA (which is one of the best live sing-a-long songs I've ever been a part of, when the Beach Boys played Yankee Stadium). Paul Simon was next, with his thoughtful and at times melancholy take on SURFER GIRL. The pizza arrived, and we didn't get to see the rest. But that means we have Heart, Elton John, Billy Joel, Brian Wilson himself, and others to look forward to.

And now, our feature presentation...

If you hate courtroom dramas, then THE RAINMAKER is not for you. From the John Grisham novel, it's one of the less visible Francis Ford Coppola films. But by no means does that mean it's not a good movie.

Matt Damon plays almost-lawyer Rudy Baylor. Not cut from the same cloth as his fellow entitled students, Rudy finds himself partnered with a seedy shyster named Bruiser (Mickey Rourke). But when Bruiser flees town because he is under investigation, Rudy falls into the lap of elfin lawyer without a license Deck Shifflet (Danny DeVito). The two form an unlikely pair; Deck is the sleazy, ambulance chasing one, Rudy the guy who cares about his clients. And when an evil insurance company refuses to pay out a claim, these two specks on the legal map grab their slingshots and gear up for what will surely be a trial that should last all of fifteen seconds.

Along the way, Rudy, a charming, boyish squeezetoy of a man, ends up renting a house from his client Miss Birdie (Teresa Wright, "Charlie" from SHADOW OF A DOUBT, in her last role), an elderly woman who doesn't want her family in her will. He is also protecting another client, Kelly (Claire Danes), from a boyfriend (Andrew Shue) so abusive one wonders why he was never put in jail.

As head of Great Benefit Insurance, Jon Voight plays Drummond like a Bond villain. His condescending scowl at Rudy and his cocksure demeanor just begs to be taken down.

THE RAINMAKER breaks a rule of filmmaking which I call The Ed McMahon Rule (originated in the Pia Zadora travesty/guilty pleasure known as BUTTERFLY). Never have a well known actor or actress show up in the last 20 minutes of the film. In APOCALYPSE NOW, you had to be dead not to know Marlon Brando was the ultimate goal. But in THE RAINMAKER, to bring Roy Scheider out at the end as a bad guy, well, to use a cliche I really hate using - it takes you right out of the movie.

Helping and hindering Rudy on his journey are Dean Stockwell, Virginia Madsen, Randy Travis, Mary Kay Place, and an uncredited Danny Glover in a role that's so likable, you want to kiss him.

THE RAINMAKER is a courtroom drama with characters so enjoyable (I give you, once again, Danny Glover), it at times plays as a comedy. Especially as Rudy, who was unexpectedly sworn in as a lawyer while in court one day, fumbles through the learning process. And sure, some of the characters border on cliche, but it's okay. At nearly two hours and twenty minutes I never felt bored (it's said the first cut was 6 hours long, but I'm not sure I believe that, your Honor). Of all of Grisham's movie adaptations (THE PELICAN BRIEF, THE FIRM, THE CLIENT, A TIME TO KILL, THE CHAMBER), I like this one the best. In fact, it's the only one I really like. Coppola made an old-fashioned movie, and made it well. Ladies and Gentlemen of Random Movie Club, I rest my case.

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