John Grisham's The Rainmaker (1997)

Frankly, the *last* thing that I wanted to see on a Saturday night 
was yet another John Grisham flick, about yet another young law 
dude (Matt Damon) tackling his first big case.  (This is, what, the 
*third* such story in a row, after THE CHAMBER and A TIME TO KILL?)  
Imagine my surprise to find adaptation #6 possessing a strong, of-
ten broadly played comedic streak.  Sure, the outcome is predict-
able, duh, but the road to get there is refreshingly lighter-heart-
ed.  Francis Ford Coppola, who wrote and directed, serves up ample 
humor at every turn, from those deliriously tacky Memphis locales 
to the occasional bit of outright slapstick.  (The scene-stealer, 
here, is Danny DeVito.  In a smaller role, Mickey Rourke is oily 
fun.  And don't miss Dean Stockwell's delightful hacking-cough cam-

Let's see... the courtroom scenes have the requisite surprises, but 
not nearly enough dramatic punch.  The tone is breezy, almost whim-
sical; the pacing is methodical, though we could use a bit more 
urgency toward the end.  Trickier is the subplot involving Claire 
Danes as an abused young wife (and potential love interest), but 
the filmmakers pull it off.  (That is, except for Elmer Bernstein's 
score, that too often intrudes upon the couple's quiet time.)  And, 
as the main character realizes by the end of the movie, there's no 
small irony in a story about an ambulance-chasing, money-grubbing 
law firm going after a claims-denying, money-grubbing insurance 
agency.  With Mary Kay Place, Teresa Wright, Andrew Shue, Danny 
Glover, and a thankfully toned-down Jon Voight.  (Rated "R"/135 

Grade: B+ 

Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros
Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: November 16, 1997

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