Would You Let This Man Be Your Father?
A 2006 dramatic film, Off the Black
features Nick Nolte as Ray Cook, an irascible umpire unhappy with life. At the game to decide state play-offs, Ray calls a fourth ball on the pitcher, Dave Tibbel (Trevor Morgan), clinching a loss. In revenge, Dave and his friends vandalize Ray's house. Ray catches Dave, and forces him to clean up, as well as making a proposition that Dave come along to Ray's 40th high school reunion as a means to show off how good Ray wishes his life was. In the process, Dave and Ray strike up an odd friendship.
This film exhibits the following tropes:
- Class Reunion: Ray convinces Dave to pose as his son for his 40th high school reunion.
- Cranky Neighbor: Ray, although it's played oddly, because he implies that no one knows him and no one really cares that he is this.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Ray is in poor health, likely due to his years of flying Agent Orange during Vietnam, and this eventually leads to his death.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Ray and Dave. There's over forty years of difference between them.
- Missing Mom: Dave's mother left them two years ago with no explanation.
- Parental Neglect:
- Ray to his real son. He tries to reconnect by sending videos of him talking, but most are returned unopened.
- Dave's father is distant, and is implied to have become emotionally crippled by his wife leaving him.
- Parental Substitute: Ray eventually comes into this role for Dave. It makes the final rejection that much more painful.
- Title Drop: Held back until the end of the movie, where Ray admits that Dave's final pitch was "just off the black", i.e. that it just missed the corner of home plate.
- Toilet Paper Prank: Dave being caught in the middle of vandalization that involves this kicks off the plot.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Early in the film, Ray is told that it's not a matter of whether to operate, it's where to start...