Off the Black (2006)



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.

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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.
R (for a crude sexual remark)
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Nick Nolte
as Ray Cook
Timothy Hutton
as Mr. Tibbel
Trevor Morgan
as Dave Tibbel
Sonia Feigelson
as Ashley Tibbel
Sally Kirkland
as Marianne Reynolds
Noah Fleiss
as Todd Hunter
Johnathan Tchaikovsky
as Paul Michaels
Jonathan Tchaikovsky
as Paul Michaels
Jonathan Tchaikovsky
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.

February 1, 2007
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

Nolte almost makes it work.

Full Review… | December 29, 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


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.

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

ive become a big fan of james ponsoldt after seeing his latest 2 films smashed and the spectacular now, so i def wanted to check his other films out, while i didnt have the same emotional response to this one as i did the other 2, its still very solid, hes very good at directing relationships, and the one between nolte and morgan is great, neither go overboard or over dramamtic, it felt real and i enjoyed seeing them together, dewitt is good too, but i wouldve liked to know more about her or see more scenes with her, the girl that plays the sister is good too, while the story might not be the most original, its still a good watch

Daniel Sloyan
Daniel Sloyan

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."


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