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Film / Off the Black

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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.
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  • 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...