I'm Not Rappaport (film)
I'm Not Rappaport is a 1996 American buddy dramedy film written and directed by Herb Gardner and starring Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis. Based on Gardner's play of the same name, the film focuses on Nat Moyer, a cantankerous left-wing Jew, and Midge Carter, an African-American man, who spend their days sitting on a bench, trying to mask the realities of aging, mainly through the tall tales that Nat spins.
|I'm Not Rappaport|
|Directed by||Herb Gardner|
|Produced by||John Penotti|
John H. Starke
|Written by||Herb Gardner (play, screenplay)|
|Music by||Gerry Mulligan|
|Edited by||Anne McCabe|
|Distributed by||Gramercy Pictures|
The film touches on several issues, including society's treatment of the aged, the difficulties dealing with adult children who think they know what's best for their parents, and the dangers that lurk in urban areas. Its title comes from an old vaudeville joke, a variation of which evolved into dialogue between the two protagonists.
In the park every morning, elderly, half-blind Midge Carter tries to read his newspaper, but is distracted daily by Nat Moyer, an opinionated old man who reminisces about long-ago union, socialist/communist activities and the love of his life.
Midge is superintendent of a residential building and has been trying to steer clear of a tenant, Pete Danforth, whose committee is pushing for Midge's retirement. Nat insists that Midge stand up for his rights, going so far as to pass himself off as Midge's attorney.
Nat's married daughter, Clara, is concerned about his welfare, particularly given how vulnerable a senior citizen can be in the park. She has good reason to worry because Nat encounters the Cowboy, a drug dealer who is owed money by a young woman named Laurie, and by J.C., a mugger who turns violent when Nat unwisely decides to fight back.
Roger Ebert, who gave the film 2 and a half stars out of 4, felt that the film diverged too far from the play, writing that "if they'd stayed on the bench and just talked--talked for two solid hours--it might have been more successful. Instead, writer-director Herb Gardner loses faith in his original impulse and adds plot--way too much plot--to force the movie into more conventional channels." USA Today critic Andy Seiler wrote that "director Herb Gardner is a little too fond of writer Herb Gardner's script, which just keeps going and going and going -- until even two old pros such as Walter and Ossie have worn out their welcome."