The 11 Best Movies About People With Mental Handicaps

Movies celebrate human triumph over adversity.  But a winning formula for movies can involve how the handicapped overcome their affliction to acheive greatness.  Here's a list of the best movies that use that as a central theme for their plot.


11.)  The Other Sister

Carla Tate (Juliette Lewis) and Daniel McMahon (Giovanni Ribisi) play two mentally challenged 20 somethings who fall in love, and nearly everyone around them supports it, minus Carla's mother Elizabeth (Diane Keaton).  As Carla and Daniel are able to prove their love for one another, Elizabeth becomes more and more willing to let Carla live an independent life.

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10.)  The Ringer

When Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) sees his employees fingers get cut off, he promises to pay the $28,000 for re-attachment surgery.  His uncle Gary (Brian Cox) is in massive gambling debt, and suggests that Steve enter the Special Olympics under the guise that he is a developmentally disabled man named Jeffy Dahmor.  The other participants (who are actually disabled) slowly realize that Jeffy is not like them, but they want the competitions most successful participant, Jimmy Washington to lose, so they decide keep Jeffy's ruse a secret. 

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9.)  What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

This movie follows the life of Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp), a young man whose mother is mobidly obese and does not leave the couch.  His brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio) is autistic and provides all sorts of trouble for Gilbert, like climbing the town's water tower on several occasions.  Meanwhile, Gilbert's banging a cougar while he takes care of his family, especially Arnie.

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8.)  Sling Blade

When Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) was 12, he murdered his mother and her lover with a Kaiser blade, also called a "sling blade"  Hey!  That sounds familiar!  Upon his release from prison, Childers befriends a young man named Frank Wheatley (Lucas Black).  The film follows Childers as he reconnects with his past and attempts to live on despite a dark history. 

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7.)  I Am Sam

Sam Dawson (Sean Penn) is the improbable father of Lucy (Dakota Fanning) who is born after Sam impregnates a homeless woman who leaves immediately after Lucy's birth.  Things go bad for Sam when his outlandish behavior at his daughter's birthday party causes concerned parents to call a social worker who decides that Sam should only be allowed two visits per week.  He attempts to get a lawyer to take his case pro bono, and approaches high-priced career driven Rita Williams (Michelle Pheiffer) who at first, refuses to take his case for free.  Finally, under pressure from her colleagues, Rita takes the case purely to appear selfless.  Soon, she realizes how much she has invested in Sam's case and how much she learns about her own family from him.   

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6.)  The Aviator

Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a billionaire entrepreneur who owns an aviation company and produces movies.  As time goes on, we begin to see his obsessive compulsive disorder become more prominent.  As things get worse, Hughes begins to debilitate even to the point of urinating into large milk bottles and accusing others of being dirty and carrying germs.  It's an interesting look at one of America's most powerful people and how obsessive compulsive disorder affected his life.

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5.)  Of Mice And Men

Based on John Steinbeck's famous novel of the same name, Of Mice And Men tells the story of two friends: George, a quick-witted and somewhat cynical man, and his friend Lennie, an enormous and strong man with little to no mental capacity.  The two are migrant workers in California during the Great Depression and are searching for a better life.  George dreams of owning his owning his own land with George, who will take care of the rabbits (he likes to touch soft things.) 

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4.)  A Beautiful Mind

John Nash (Russell Crowe) is a genius in mathematics at Princeton University.  After a series of strange incidents and erratic behavior, Nash's friends begin to think he is suffering from hallucinations, but Nash believes everything he sees is real.  After a particularly daunting episode with his wife, Nash accepts that he is suffering from psychosis.  The film follows Nash as he attempts to live with paranoid schizophrenia and continue his career as a theoretical mathematician.

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3.)  Rain Man

Dustin Hoffman plays Raymond Babbitt, an autistic savant who inherits his father's $3 million estate.  Tom Cruise plays his brother Charlie Babbitt, an egotistical rich boy living in Los Angeles as a car dealer.  When he learns that he will not be inheriting more than a car and a couple of rose bushes from his deceased father, he travels to find out who is to receive the money.  Upon finding out that the benecificiary is Raymond, Charlie takes him across the country in hopes that he can get Raymond to sign over some of the money to him.  Along the way, Charlie learns more about his brother and finds himself becoming protective of him.

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2.)  Dumb and Dumber

Regarded as one of the funniest movies of all time, Dumb and Dumber follows Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey), two insanely dumb friends who have somehow survived into their 30s.  Limo driver Lloyd falls in love with Marry Swanson (Lauren Holly) as he drives her to the airport, and notices she's left behind a suitcase.  The suitcase contains ransom money for the kidnappers of Mary's husband, but Lloyd accidently takes it, thinking she forgot it by accident.  Soon, Harry and Lloyd leave their hometown and follow Mary to Aspen, where more and more hilarious things happen. 

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1.)  Forrest Gump

Easily one of the best ever, this film follows Forrest Gump, a man of severely limited mental capacity, who leads a miraculous life, and is unaware of the impact he has made on the world.  The film features both comedic and dramatic elements, which led to its 1994 Academy Award win for Best Picture.

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