Thursday, September 20, 2018

I'm Not Rappaport (1996)

Walter Matthau Movie #3
Synopsis: Two wildly-different loveable losers develop an uneasy friendship and engage in weird adventures in Central Park. Ok, so it’s a geriatric, low-budget remake of The Fisher King
Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “With vaudevillian flair, these appealing oldsters outrageously take on the world and its multiple threats - drug dealers and muggers, enlightened children, forced retirement, and the spectre of the old folks’ home.” 
What Did I Learn?: 1) Junkies aren’t very reliable people. 2) Fabricating stories is a great way to make new friends. 3) Decent, law-abiding citizens are easy to con with a quickly-delivered stream of bullshit…hardened criminals, not so much. 
You Might Like This Movie If: You want to hear a really great joke.
Really?: 1) See: “What Did I Learn?” Seriously, I had a bit of trouble believing the grocery store employees would allow Nat to unilaterally mark down their merchandise and not throw him out on his ear. 2) You know…I really didn’t need to see 76-year old Matthau get roughed up, not once, but twice in this film. 3) So, Nat’s daughter Clara is over 50? Amy Irving certainly doesn’t look that old. I realize the play was written in the mid-1980s, so it would have made sense for her to have been born in 1945, but there’s a reference to the Russians giving up communism, which places the events of the film in the mid-1990s.
Rating: I have to give I’m Not Rappaport a bit of a mixed review. It’s hard not to like Nat Moyer, the aging small-c communist bullshit artist who doesn’t have much to do except hang out in the park and needle Midge Carter. Matthau is wonderful as Moyer, and I liked his exchanges with Davis. Overall, I’m Not Rappaport is a warm, funny, and strangely enjoyable (considering it mostly consists of Moyer annoying the crap out of Carter on a park bench) film that’s also wildly uneven in tone. When playwright Herb Gardner was offered the chance to direct his work, he added a whole bunch of extra characters and plotlines; some of them work well with the original material (Amy Irving is great as Nat’s long-suffering daughter), while some of them stick out like a sore thumb. Matthau and Davis posing as Mafioso and trying to convince a drug-dealing cowboy (played well by Craig T. Nelson of Coach fame) to forgive the debt of a young junkie? Come on…. 7.5/10 stars.

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