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this is a film that i was inclined to like at the outset : the two main characters had been involved with the fine television drama st .
elsewhere for several years , and i had understood that the director/screenwriter had written for the show on occasion also .
i am sorry to report that the results were not up to my expectations , nor were they satisfactory .
if i had to list a reason why . . . .
but that would be getting ahead of myself ; besides , it's not immediately clear , as there are so many problems with the film .
adam arkin plays a grade-school teacher who is sardonic , cynical , and somewhat abrasive , but a good teacher .
he spends his lunches playing basketball by himself on a nearby court .
one day , he meets a drifter ( david morse , who plays jack morrison on st .
elsewhere ) in the park , and inveigles him in a game of one-on-one basketball .
morse turns out to be good , and a friendship slowly develops between the two , as their respective professions progress on the screen--arkin's teaching , and morse's selling of paper flowers to passing motorists .
so far , my major complaint would be the lack of dialogue , and the constant intrusion of the musical soundtrack .
good music to be sure , but it doesn't replace the dialogue for setting the mood or telling the story--it makes the film somewhat minimalistic , a technique i rarely admire .
suddenly their friendship is interrupted by morse's introduction to a fellow teacher of arkin's , a woman arkin has long admired from afar , but it too reticent to approach .
it appears that she begins to admire morse ( who enjoys here attentions , but isn't sure what to do about it--she doesn't realize that he is a drifter , and knows nothing about his past ) , and this causes friction between arkin and almost everyone else .
until then , i had only a vague dissatisfaction with the film .
the conclusion is where it begins to evolve into a full-fledged failure .
the woman , at least to me , appeared to be fairly shallow ; i didn't realize how shallow until her final scene with arkin , where she reveals that she has been trying to make arkin jealous by her attentions to morse .
somehow , this is made to appear as if it is arkin's fault , and it is left with him feeling somehow victorious that he's gotten such a find of girlfriend .
frankly , dropping her on the spot would have seemed the most civilized action arkin could make ; punching her in the mouth not the least .
after this , the childish confrontation between morse and arkin at the end seems almost natural .
if i had to summarize a major gripe , it's that this is a story spread too thin , that creates semi-likable characters at the outset , and then suddenly jerks them into being 16-year-olds at the last moment .
it might be true-to-life with some people ; but that doesn't mean * i * have to like it .
i don't .
avoid .