Off the Black | Chicago Reader

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More famous now as a mug shot than an actor, Nick Nolte may finish out his adventurous career typecast as a mysterious loner (the Zen-master gas station attendant in Peaceful Warrior, the blind Vietnam vet in The Beautiful Country). Writer-director James Ponsoldt, making his feature debut, casts Nolte as a small-town umpire who hides away in his home, drinking and taping video letters to an estranged son. After he catches a disgruntled high school pitcher (Trevor Morgan) vandalizing his house, Nolte orders him to make repairs, and the two eventually become friends. The leads are good, and Timothy Hutton is memorably off-putting as the pitcher's disengaged dad. But having created the aching umpire, Ponsoldt occupies him with some fairly shopworn situations (a high school reunion, a parent with Alzheimer's). R, 90 min.

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