Wednesday, November 26, 1997

John Grisham's The Rainmaker

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 1997 at 12:00 AM

From the outset, audiences will have very little reason to avoid Francis Ford Coppola's newest film, John Grisham's The Rainmaker. Boasting an acclaimed director and a humbly told American fave, the courtroom drama, as his device, it brings old and new favorites as its basic staples. Now triple that with a story by Hollywood's biggest novelist, Grisham, and we've got a bona fide winner.

The movie is actually not so mechanical as that. Its coupling of Matt Damon as law school graduate Rudy Baylor, and Danny DeVito as his "paralawyer" partner Deck Shifflet, works precisely for its calculated charm and humor. But this time, Grisham's work presents a somewhat fresh, unsparing look at the baser and seedier aspects of the legal system that entertains and provokes without prodding (see A Time To Kill for details).

His interesting Dickensian take on corporate chicanery shows Rudy, and the audience, that there are many different types of lawyers in the world, a detail that plays out with edifying irony here. Once again, Coppola peers vigorously between society's cracks.

Damon as Rudy is certain to become the big screen's next big thing as the earnest and ballsy young hero-attorney. Mickey Rourke and Danny Glover bring estimable gravity to the pic, with reserved performances, but the real star is Coppola's adapted script. His screenplay pulls so many laughs out of the legal profession as to implode its social import. The cinematic instigator turns satirist. What next?

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