Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) is a pennyless law graduate in Tennessee. Desperate for work he seeks employment from a shady lawyer, Bruiser Stone (Mickey Rourke) who isn't interested in Baylor as much as in the two potentially big dollar cases he brings with him -- a wealthy widow in need of a will, and Donny Ray (Johnny Whitworth) a young man diagnosed with leukemia, trying to sue the insurance company that has denied his medical benefits. Although a bone marrow transplant can save Donny Ray's life, his family can only afford a place for him to lie down and die.
Baylor is put in the hands of Deck Shifflet (Danny DeVito), six time bar exam flunkie. For job training, Shifflet teaches Baylor how to stalk the hospital looking for accident victims who might need legal advice. On one of these visits, Baylor meets Kelly (Claire Daines), a woman who has been badly beaten by her husband but is reluctant to pursue legal action. When Bruiser leaves town to avoid arrest for fraud, Baylor and Shifflet take their three cases and set up shop.
Although this film is not appropriate for young children, Baylor's belief in truth and justice make it a story that older family members may benefit from. The injustices suffered by his dying client lead Baylor into a crusade against a very powerful and unscrupulous insurance company. Baylor's ethics are tried from every direction, while he struggles to hang onto his principles.
His compassion for the abused wife draws him towards romantic feelings for her, and although he kisses her while she is still married, they purposely avoid any further sexual relationship and Baylor chooses to not have her stay at his apartment. His desire to protect Kelly pulls him into confrontation with her husband and an intense scene results. Though filmed tastefully, this may be disturbing.
The Rainmaker, a film that parents are advised to preview, contains a few profanities and noted violence. However, it invokes the values of Hollywood's Golden Age -- a time when good guys were really good.