That’s What I Am 2011
PG | 1h 41min | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 29 April 2011 (USA)
A coming-of-age story set in 1965 that follows 12-year-old Andy Nichol (Chase Ellison), a bright student who, like most kids his age, will do anything to avoid conflict for fear of suffering overwhelming ridicule and punishment from his junior high school peers. Everyone’s favorite teacher, Mr. Simon (Ed Harris), pairs Andy with the school’s biggest outcast and social pariah, Stanley, aka “Big G” (Alexander Walters), on a critical term project. Sporting thick orange hair, a head too big for his body and ears too big for his head, “Big G” has been the object of ridicule since grade school. Before long, Andy will learn that there was truly a method behind Mr. Simon’s madness as to why he teamed these two up. As the story unfolds, Mr. Simon finds himself the target of a malicious rumor after Principal Kelner (Amy Madigan) suspends a school bully for brutally beating up a female classmate whom he thinks has “cooties.” When Andy watches “Big G” fearlessly confront the school bully, a series of events are triggered which change the lives of both young men – and their teacher – forever. Much to Andy’s surprise, “Big G” is a brilliant, kind, tolerant and decent human being who has more dignity than anyone Andy has ever encountered.
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated PG for thematic material throughout, language and some bullying
There are so many “coming of age” stories out there now so do we really need another one? Yes, if it’s done well and That’s What I Am gets my vote for another addition to the genre.
Right of the bat the opening narration and the time setting reminded me of The Wonder Years, an excellent coming of age series set in the 60s. I felt I was in familiar territory and wondered if this would follow the episodes of TWY, where an older Kevin would narrate a particular episode in his young life which ended with a valuable lesson being learned. I wasn’t to be disappointed as there are quite a few lessons this movie teaches: prejudice, courage, dignity, friendship, honour and tolerance.
The story’s about a young “cool” kid being paired off with a social outcast, something which he’s not very happy about. It might not sound like the most interesting premise and one would think that the movie would focus on their blossoming friendship but that’s far from the truth. Instead, the story uses that point to focus on other issues in the 60s, issues that are mainstream and accepted today as norms but back then were new, and something to fear. There are several light moments, some dark ones, and some tear inducing moments that come at the right time and are just enough to make you smile and be glad that you watched the movie.
The acting is very good all round. Ed Harris, the most known name in the movie, is excellent in his somewhat supporting role. And that’s the way it should be because the movie’s about the kids in the school and not him, just in the way the movie’s not all about Andy and Big G. One thing seems to remain the same…the social classes in schools back then were no different to those today. Sure, there were no EMO kids, no Goths, or preppy kids but there were still distinctions that are not so different from what we see in modern set teen high school movies.
All in all, this is definitely one to watch. If you liked The Wonder Years then you should definitely watch this movie as you’ll feel right at home. This is one coming of age movie that will make you smile, and cry, and smile some more.
Director: Michael Pavone (as Mike Pavone)
Writer: Michael Pavone (as Mike Pavone)
Stars: Ed Harris, Chase Ellison, Molly Parker
Format : Matroska
Format version : Version 2
File size : 6.56 GiB
Duration : 1 h 41 min
Overall bit rate : 9 263 kb/s