Here at the Tribeca Film Festival, Danny DeVito has delivered the short film Curmudgeons, a cinematic ode to his buddy, late New York actor David Margulies, who died in January after battling a long illness. DeVito and Margulies have known each other since 1968 when they performed in off-Broadway plays together at the Sheridan Square Playhouse, and the late actor — who many remember from Ghostbusters and as Tony Soprano’s attorney Neil Mink — also performed with Danny’s daughter Lucy at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in Manhattan.
Curmudgeons centers around Ralphie who is subjected to life in an assisted living facility. One day, he is visited by his granddaughter (Lucy DeVito), and ultimately his partner Jackie (Danny DeVito) who proposes to him. The DeVitos — Lucy, Danny, and son Jake, who produces here — saw Joshua Conkel’s play at the Ensemble four years ago and agreed to turn it into a movie.
Conkel wrote the movie before Margulies’ long illness and based it on elderly couples who were separated due to senior living circumstances. “There was a different sensibility to the play when we saw it,” said Danny DeVito. “It took on another life given the situation that David was in.”
Here the DeVitos discuss the making of Curmudgeons, while Danny reflects on producing and the need to shoot independent films in New Jersey. Curmudgeons plays at Tribeca from Frida-Sunday at the following times and venues.