Movie Review By Alex Lau
John Grisham is a best-selling author, and his books have spawned six films, with 2 more to come within the next year or so. You probably know this already. Most of the films have done pretty well at the box office, albeit to lukewarm reviews.
The sixth film in this loosely related series is "The Rainmaker," and it's directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Like all the other Grisham films to date, it has a lawyer as the featured character, and it's set in the American South. Just like "A Time to Kill," the lead is played by a relative unknown, and he's surrounded by a cast of veterans.
Matt Damon is Rudy Baylor, an idealist fresh out of law school, and ready for an education in the seedier side of the law. He goes to work for one of the slimiest fellows in Memphis, "Bruiser" Stone, played by Mickey Rourke. There he meets Danny DeVito as Deck Shifflet, a former insurance adjuster-turned-paralegal. In his first case, he gets a suit against a big insurance company. They of course sic their expensive, high-powered lawyers on him, but you can probably guess who wins.
Coppola is hardly new at turning a popular novel into a pretty decent film; he did it with "The Godfather" series, for instance. This time, though, the subject matter might be on the lightweight side for Coppola, as his use of flashbacks, flashforwards, and voice-overs comes across as a little heavyhanded. He still keeps things moving, though, and the pacing is such that it never seems too slow or boring.
Claire Danes gives her usual fantastic performance, although her role is mostly limited to crying and acting scared. Danny Glover, Jon Voight, and Mary Kay Place round out the fine cast.
Despite its 135 minute running time, "The Rainmaker" is still an entertaining diversion, and probably the best adaptation of a Grisham novel to date. It's a great film to watch on one of those El Nino-induced rainy days.
© 1997 - Alex Lau - Air Date: 11/26/97
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