Charlie Babbitt is a lonely, inward, bitter young man who ran away from home as a teenager and hasn't been in touch with his father since. When news of his father's death reaches him, Charlie is seemingly unemotional, but he heads for his home in Cincinnati anyway, hoping that the old man might have remembered him in his will. Charlie is a hustler whose shady car business desperately needs eighty thousand bucks to stay afloat. He isn't prepared for what he discovers, however. He has an older brother, an autistic savant named Raymond who has been in an institution for more than two decades. And Raymond has inherited three million dollars from their father's estate. Learning that Raymond doesn't understand the concept of money just makes Charlie all the more anxious to go after it. So he "kidnaps" his brother, hits the road for Los Angeles and soon learns that autism requires twenty-four hour care, and he doesn't have the patience to deal with it. Charlie soon learns the necessary patience however and it isn't hard to figure out that before the movie is over Charlie will learn to love and cherish his brother and lose his mercenary tendencies.