Synopsis: Trouble-making young punk with mopey pop bonds with a new father figure….the grumpy old town drunk.
Blurb From the DVD Jacket: “Would you let this man be your father?”
What Did I Learn?: If I ever decide to umpire little league baseball, I’ll remember that it’s a really good idea to give the local kids all of the close-call decisions.
You Might Like This Movie If: You need a reminder that alcoholism and parenting don't mix.
Really?: 1) So, how does Ray (Nick Nolte) know Debra (Rosemarie DeWitt), why is she in this movie, and why is she apparently interested in Dave (Trevor Morgan) even though she’s older than him and far more literate? I get the feeling she was added because the studio didn’t want Ray and Dave’s friendship to look vaguely homoerotic. 2) Mr. Tibbel’s (Timothy Hutton) wife left him a year-and-a-half ago, yet he’s still an emotional cripple and we’re told he often doesn’t go into work. Um… is money an issue for this family? He does he manage to keep his job and somehow put food on the table every week? 3) Hold on, why is Ray such a man of mystery to his classmates? They have his mailing address, for crying out loud – didn’t any of them consider paying him a visit?
Rating: Off the Black is a very low-key character-driven drama that features a relatable performance from Trevor Morgan and a great one from Nolte. The plot is a bit contrived – I suspect Ray would almost certainly inform Mr. Tibbel about Dave’s vandalism in lieu of calling the cops, but Off the Black is also warm, poignant, and I liked its message about the importance of facing life’s challenges without self-pity. Highly recommended. 9/10 stars.