“Rain Man is a classic two-hander, with virtuosic performances on both sides: Cruise excels as a rich dick, and Dustin Hoffman’s Academy Award–winning performance is legendary and legendarily parodied. This might rank higher, if not for the premise having curdled into something slightly uncomfortable.”
Honestly, every time I read a sentence like this, I wonder if I’m listening to a child who isn’t capable of discerning movie reality from real reality. There’s no doubt the Cruise is portrayed as a selfish jerk for how he’s using his brother. That’s how movies work. They start out flawed and they grow. If everyone’s perfect in the beginning, then there’s nowhere to go.
Honestly, I haven’t seen it in a while, so I’m not sure how accurately Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of autism was, but I can virtually guarantee you that even if it was only 70% accurate, it probably introduced a ton of people to it, relatively sympathetically, and probably contributed more social benefit and awareness than a bunch of judgmental critics looking at it 30 years later could possibly dream of.
Here’s a more nuanced discussion of its legacy. http://www.interactingwithautism.com/section/understanding/media/representations/details/38