An underdog lawyer takes on a fraudulent insurance company.

Writers:

John Grisham (novel), Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
2,253 ( 53)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Matt Damon ... Rudy Baylor
Danny DeVito ... Deck Shifflet
Claire Danes ... Kelly Riker
Jon Voight ... Leo F. Drummond
Mary Kay Place ... Dot Black
Dean Stockwell ... Judge Harvey Hale
Teresa Wright ... Miss Birdie
Virginia Madsen ... Jackie Lemancyzk
Mickey Rourke ... Bruiser Stone
Andrew Shue ... Cliff Riker
Red West ... Buddy Black
Johnny Whitworth ... Donny Ray Black
Wayne Emmons Wayne Emmons ... Prince Thomas
Adrian Roberts ... Butch
Roy Scheider ... Wilfred Keeley
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Storyline

Rudy Baylor is a young attorney out to make a difference in the justice system. He is also the only hope of an elderly couple after their corrupt insurance company refuses to pay out a claim that could save their child's life. In this judicial drama, Baylor rails against corporate lawyers, corrupt judges, and abusive husbands, all with the help of a fellow lawyer who hasn't even passed his bar exam. He is facing long odds in the courtroom - and this is only his first case. Written by Steve Richer <sricher@sympatico.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for a strong beating and elements of domestic abuse | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Leo Drummand's assertion (and motion) that stolen evidence is not admissible in a civil action is untrue. While there are recognized restraints on the federal and state governments, preventing them from using evidence that they obtain improperly (in particular, in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution), in civil suits, lawyers can utilize stolen evidence. The evidence is subject to credibility concerns related to the methodology by which the evidence was obtained, and a person who steals evidence may violate the law, but the information is not rendered inadmissible, merely because it was stolen. See more »

Goofs

Rudy's wine glass keeps repeatedly jumps between almost full and almost empty between shots when he is in the restaurant with Deck. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Rudy Baylor: My father hated lawyers all his life. He wasn't a great guy, my old man. He drank and beat up my mother; he beat me up too. So you might think I became a lawyer just to piss him off. But you'd be wrong. I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I read about the Civil Rights lawyers in the 50s and 60s, and the amazing uses they found for the law. They did what a lot of people thought was the impossible. They gave lawyers a good name. And so I went to law school. And it did piss my father ...
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Crazy Credits

There is a credit for "Poet in Residence". See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ausverkauft! (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Baby Scratch My Back
Written by James Moore
Performed by James Moore (as Slim Harpo)
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
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User Reviews

Forget about the book, enjoy the acting
21 September 2000 | by Philby-3See all my reviews

Readers of John Grisham's book will find this film rather less of a thriller and more of a courtroom drama, albeit with a curious flat feel to it. The story is that of a legal action on behalf of a teenage boy denied coverage for an expensive bone marrow transplant by his family's medical insurer. Changes to the plotline to accommodate the story to the demands of film drama have removed the unique feature of the book – a largely successful attempt to make the details of legal civil procedure interesting. Francis Coppola is a very innovative yet conventional director (you could credit him with authorship of several current movie clichés) and his storylines develop according to convention. Thus the love affair, which is completely extraneous to the main storyline in the book, is pumped up, and the fascinating battle of wits between the lawyers played down. As in the book, Rudy is the tyro David up against the experienced Goliath, Drummond, but Rudy's inexperience is played up to the point that you wonder how he got this far. The trial judge, who in the book is extremely helpful to Rudy, is replaced in the film by a sympathetic but much more impartial figure. In Hollywood conventional courtroom drama, His Honor or Her Honor doesn't take sides.

That said, there is much to enjoy. Danny de Vito, playing Deck the paralegal (or `paralawyer' as Rudy names him) who can't seem to pass the bar exam, is just brilliant. His Deck is a disheveled, unimpressive little guy who is nonetheless good at what he does, `rainmaking' or finding new business. His strengths are his intelligence, his energy and his lack of pride; he is quite happy to chase ambulances and give cops backhanders for information. His ethics are simple: fight for your client, don't steal and try not to lie. While the Deck of the book verges on the grotesque, De Vito makes him less of an oddball and hence more sympathetic. Matt Damon as Rudy is wetter behind the ears and not such a quick learner as the Rudy of the book, but every so often he connects and we understand how he feels. Mickey Rourke is a bit too elegant as Bruiser, Rudy's erstwhile mentor, (who wears cufflinks on a tropical beach?) but it's also an enjoyable performance. Although the script tones down his role, John Voight is nastily urbane as superlawyer Drummond.

Once again we have a courtroom drama filmed in a grand but gloomy courtroom, in fact the lighting people seem to have been absent. We hardly get a glimpse of the face of one important minor character, Cliff the wife-beater, (Andrew Shue) yet there is no apparent reason for this. The way some of the scenes were strung together, and started and finished were vaguely familiar, and half way through it hit me - ` The Godfather', where scenes just seem to begin and end without any particular reason.

One thing the film does almost as well as the book is send the message (sorry Mr Goldwyn) that America needs to do something about its medical insurance system, if the present chaotic mess can be so described. The court system, while not perfect, comes out of it a bit better (David is able to beat Goliath fair and square) but as for lawyers…well, let's just say things would be a lot better if they stuck to Deck's minimal ethics. The story also might explain why John Grisham (who has a walk-on role as a lawyer at an al fresco deposition) gave up the law to write books, thus bringing pleasure to millions instead of (hopefully) winning retribution for a few.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA | Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 November 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

John Grisham's The Rainmaker See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,626,507, 23 November 1997

Gross USA:

$45,916,769

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$45,916,769
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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