Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Turning a play into a movie is always a hit-or-miss process, and I still don't know quite what to make of the latest film to take that journey, I'm Not Rappaport.
Based on the critically-acclaimed play of the same name, I'm Not Rappaport as the story of two elderly men, Nat, a Jewish/socialist radical and compulsive liar (Walter Matthau), and Midge, a black, nearly blind apartment superintendent (Ossie Davis). The pair has an uneasy friendship based on the fact that they sit on the same bench in Central Park, where Nat fills Midge's head with fabrications. Nat's flair for creating new personae for himself draws the pair into one minor adventure after another, involving a young artist-in-training (Martha Plimpton), a drug dealer (Craig T. Nelson), a mugger (Guillermo Diaz), and threats from Nat's daughter (Amy Irving) regarding the ever-looming old folks' home.
The stuff of Broadway? For sure. The stuff of Hollywood? I don't think so. The problems of compressing a heartwarming story about two old guys who hang around Central Park into a feature film have obviously taken their toll on I'm Not Rappaport, and what we've got is a 2-hour, 15-minute opus that features a very rocky start, some unneeded subplots, and an overly repetitious plotline that is compelling despite its heavy talkiness.
Matthau and Davis are truly inspired as the leads (they worked together before in Grumpy Old Men), and it's great to see Plimpton again, but whoever was in charge of putting Irving and Nelson in this movie should be put in the old folks' home themselves. Herb Gardner's direction of his own script is as good as you can expect for a piece like this (he changes camera angles enough to keep it interesting, and that's about it), but nothing much else is overly inspired.
The film is semi-entertaining and semi-interesting, but unless you're really into this kind of tale, "semi" probably isn't going to cut it.
Okay, neither of you is Rappaport.
Facts and Figures
Run time: 135 mins
In Theaters: Tuesday 24th December 1996
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Greenestreet Films
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 5 Rotten: 10
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Cast & Crew
Director: Herb Gardner
Screenwriter: Herb Gardner