Movies about mental retardation can be both powerful and emotional viewing experiences. They can also be heartwarming and, at times, funny. As the great Kirk Lazarus of “Tropic Thunder” points out, the only way to truly pull of a good retard is to never go “full retard.”

  1. “Rain Man” Starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, “Rain Man” tells the story of a selfish yuppie that finds out that his deceased father has left a fortune in inheritance to his unknown brother who lives in a mental retardation hospital. The trouble is, that unknown brother is an autistic savant. Together, they set out on a cross country journey, including a quick trip to break the bank in Las Vegas, where they grow together and form a brotherhood.

  2. “Forrest Gump” Tom Hanks aptly plays the title character, a simple southerner whose mental retardation leads him on various journeys across the 50s, 60s and 70s. This Oscar winner-while at times sappy-is sweet and funny and explains to us that “life is like a box of chocolates.&rdquo Knowing nothing but love and loyalty, Forrest Gump changes everyone he comes into contact with.

  3. “I Am Sam” Sean Penn plays the title character in this film about mental retardation. With the mental capacity of a seven-year old, Sam struggles through an intense and personal court battle to retain custody of the seven-year old daughter that he loves so much. Working pro bono, the lawyer arguing his case learns of his love to save her dysfunctional family.

  4. “Sling Blade” Billy Bob Thornton plays a mentally retarded man who has just been released from a mental hospital. Twenty years earlier, he murdered his mother and her lover at the age of twelve. He then befriends a young boy and his mother, who is dating an abusive boyfriend. Most people don’t trust him since he is a murderer, fearing he will do it again.

  5. “The Waterboy” Played more for comedy than for dramatic effect, Adam Sandler plays a waterboy who suffers from mental retardation. When a local football coach sees his tackling skills, he promptly persuades him to join the team and help them reach the state championship. Loving only three things in life-his mother, his girlfriend, and football-the waterboy uses his talents to inspire the entire team.