I'm Not Rappaport

Intent on exposing some crucial issues about aging and quality of life and trying to be funny at the same time, this 1996 endeavor, adapted by director Herb Gardner from the play he wrote, can't hide its stage origins—or prevent us from concluding that the story must be far more effective onstage than it is on-screen. By telling us too blatantly what to look at and when to look away, the movie subverts the monologuing that is its soul and prevents Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis from working their magic as two eightysomething men who refuse to outlive their usefulness. Each cut to a new angle on the two men sitting on a bench in Central Park makes us long for the uninterrupted acting of the stage—the edits seem motivated by nothing more than the need to cover a messed-up line. In one sequence Davis and Matthau—their sight enhanced by the marijuana they've just smoked—look at Martha Plimpton in the distance, and we see what each man is imagining in phony, precious inserts. It would have been much more powerful to let the actors paint their fantasies for each other with words, but the filmmakers couldn't resist the temptation cinema provides to literalize internal landscapes.

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