I'm Not Rappaport

on December 27, 1996 by Dale Winogura
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  &#160The conflicting values of fighting for causes and change are perceptively expressed in a warm, amiable character study that should find favor among older, more discriminating viewers. The careful plot development might be too slow for younger, less patient audiences, but the unforced comic realism and restrained whimsy of Herb Gardner's writing keep the movie on its feet for more than two hours.
  &#160His Tony Award-winning 1984 play about two old codgers talking about and dealing with life's hard knocks in Central Park has been followed quite closely, and Gardner's often static and stagey film direction unfortunately does not disguise his play's origins. Yet that's probably the only way the material could have worked, because opening up the play too much could have pulled focus away from the main characters. The minimal story, of the old guys (Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis) working together to stop a drug dealer (Craig T. Nelson) from harming a young client (Martha Plimpton), becomes a small modern variation of Cervantes' Don Quixote (without horse, of course).
  &#160Matthau again proves himself a master of comic timing and character insight in his strongest role in years. As the fighting ex-Communist, raging against social outrages and life's injustices, Matthau brings a refreshing lack of cute eccentricity; he's a tough-as-steel old trouper. Davis stands up to him scene for scene, providing not only the perfect foil but also a solid individual character all his own.
  &#160As Matthau's concerned daughter, Amy Irving brings compassion and understanding to a potentially unsympathetic part. Nelson and Plimpton smartly avoid the cliche pitfalls of the victimizer-victim relationship, even if their roles seem more standard issue than the others. The inevitability of aging is a theme handled without sentimental patronage, but with melancholy truth and sadness, in Gardner's pleasurable array of dialogue. Starring Walter Matthau, Ossie Davis, Amy Irving and Craig T. Nelson. Directed and written by Herb Gardner. Produced by John Penotti and John Starke. A Gramercy release. Comedy/drama. Rated PG-13 for drug content and momentary violence. Running time: 131 min
Tags: Walter Matthau, Ossie Davis, Amy Irving, Craig T. Nelson, Herb Gardner, adaptation, Martha Plimpton
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