Off the Black (2006)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Nick Nolte shines in his role as an irascible high school umpire, imbuing this indie coming-of-age dramedy with heft and true-to-life warmth.


Movie Info

In this coming-of-age story, teenager Dave Tibbel copes with his own distant father by forming an unlikely friendship with a disheveled, irascible high school umpire, Ray Cooke. As they grow more dependent on each other, Ray asks Dave to go to his 40th high school reunion and pretend to be his son, a benevolent act of deception that winds up opening unexpected dimensions in the two men.

Rating: R (for a crude sexual remark)
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By: ,
Written By: James Ponsolot, James Ponsoldt
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 17, 2007
Runtime:
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Cast


as Ray Cook

as Mr. Tibbel

as Dave Tibbel

as Ashley Tibbel

as Marianne Reynolds

as Todd Hunter

as Paul Michaels
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Critic Reviews for Off the Black

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (21)

The leads are good, and Timothy Hutton is memorably off-putting as the pitcher's disengaged dad. But having created the aching umpire, Ponsoldt occupies him with some fairly shopworn situation.

Full Review… | March 21, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A modest drama fueled by Nick Nolte's gutsy lead performance as a disheveled 57-year-old junkyard proprietor who's been as flattened by life as the rusty old cars he crushes.

Full Review… | February 1, 2007
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

Nolte almost makes it work.

Full Review… | December 30, 2006
AV Club
Top Critic

Off the Black is a small, dry, emotionally loaded short story that has been carried to film like baked fish to a platter.

Full Review… | December 22, 2006
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Writer-director James Ponsoldt's film treats big subjects -- loneliness, coming-of-age and father-son relationships -- with such half-baked conviction, it's a wonder the screen doesn't redden with embarrassment.

Full Review… | December 21, 2006
Washington Post
Top Critic

...There's nothing too small about Nolte's performance. He's the perfect companion for a rookie feature film director looking to make a good first impression.

Full Review… | December 15, 2006
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Off the Black

Cast: Nick Nolte, Trevor Morgan, Marlyne Afflack, Timothy Hutton, Rosemarie DeWitt, Noah Fleiss, Sally Kirkland

Director: James Ponsoldt

Summary: An unlikely bond forms between high school baseball pitcher Dave Tibbel (Trevor Morgan) and reclusive, ailing umpire Ray Cook (Nick Nolte) after Ray catches the youngster vandalizing his home. Ray offers to forgive Dave's debt if he'll pose as Ray's estranged son at an upcoming class reunion. Meanwhile, Dave contends with his withdrawn father (Timothy Hutton), who's been a wreck since his wife left him.

My Thoughts: "It's a sad film about two people who form a special bond with each other. They are both missing something in their lives. Ray, a relationship with his son, and Dave, a relationship with his father. So the pair have these father and son moments and then the relationship ends. Dave is saddened and asks the question "does everyone leave?", which really makes you feel bad for his character. It's a bit of a slow drama, but it develops well. Haven't seen Nick Nolte in a movie in quite a long time. I thought he was really great, and Trevor Morgan was great as well. Their relationship and characters were believable, and to some of us, relatable. Good movie all around."

LWOODS04
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Super Reviewer

½

[font=Century Gothic]"Off the Black" starts with Dave(Trevor Morgan) walking in the winning run in a high school baseball game umpired by Ray(Nick Nolte), a 57-year old who works at a junkyard and lives with his bulldog. That night, Dave and two of his friends vandalize and toiletpaper Ray's house but Ray catches Dave in the act while his two friends get away.(But Dave is a good kid. Trust me. He lives with his father(Timothy Hutton) and younger sister, Ashley(Sonia Feigelson).) Ray promises to let the prank go on the condition that Dave accompany him to his 40th high school reunion and pretend that he is his son.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"Off the Black" is an exploration of why umpires are some of the most vilified people around. To be serious, it is about how wrong it is to blame one's problems on other people(like blaming a lost game on an umpire's decision), instead of accepting responsibility for one's life. And we should all shut off the television, get out of the house more and live life to its fullest but I could think of plenty of better things to do than attend a reunion.(Both Ray and Dave's father sit around and consume an unholy amount of beer.) In the end, Ray does not realize what he is missing until he knows he is dying. But it is ironic that a movie about life is so lifeless and flat, despite another rich performance from Nick Nolte.[/font]

Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

½

The leads are good, and Timothy Hutton is memorably off-putting as the pitcher's disengaged dad. But having created the aching umpire, Ponsoldt occupies him with some fairly shopworn situation.

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