Off the Black
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When the growing divide between a troubled teen and his emotionally distant father finds the boy seeking the friendship of a disheveled and temperamental high-school umpire, the bond shared between the unlikely pair leads both to realize things about themselves that they never knew in an affecting coming-of-age tale starring Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton, Trevor Morgan, and Sally Kirkland. Ray Cook (Nolte) is a gruff, hard-drinking ump whose questionable call has recently cost a high-school baseball team one of the season's most crucial games. When Ray discovers his house being vandalized one… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"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."
‑ J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader
"Off the Black is a small, dry, emotionally loaded short story that has been carried to film like baked fish to a platter."
‑ Ty Burr, Boston Globe
"Nolte nails the particular tragedy of the past-his-prime ex-high-school athlete."
‑ Nina MacLaughlin, Boston Phoenix
"Ponsoldt's debut is full of quiet heartache, and effectively establishes a consistent melancholy tone. And Nolte is exceptional."
‑ Chuck O'Leary,
"The material is awfully familiar, and first-time director James Ponsoldt paces the entire 90 minutes so slowly that you might think he's talking about chess rather than baseball."
‑ Harvey S. Karten, Compuserve
"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."
‑ Bob Longino, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"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."
‑ Desson Thomson, Washington Post
"Nolte is a flawed mentor in uncertain indie drama."
‑ Charles Cassady, Common Sense Media
"Just a simple little "people drama," nothing more, but a very well-crafted and heartfelt one all the same."
‑ Scott Weinberg, DVD Clinic
"Just 'off the black' is a baseball term for a pitch that's a fraction off from being a really good strike. Same here, this movie is just a fraction off from being a really good film."
‑ Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone,
"Nolte almost makes it work."
‑ Noel Murray, AV Club
"...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."
‑ Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
"To put it plainly, most of Off the Black is simply terrible."
‑ Tricia Olszewski, Washington City Paper
""Off the Black" is writer/director James Ponsoldt's first movie...When I found out how young Ponsoldt is, only twenty-six, I was shocked that someone so young could have such insight into, and such empathy for, the existential disquietude of middle age."
‑ Beverly Berning,
"OFF THE BLACK is a small picture that might get lost amidall the holiday hoopla and Oscar-bait fare that is clogging the cineplexes. It's worth seeking out; those who do will find a sweet but not saccharine story."
‑ Ted Murphy, Murphy's Movie Reviews
More reviews for Off the Black on Rotten Tomatoes