That's What I Am

2011

That's What I Am (2011)

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Movie Info

Set in California against the backdrop of the mid-sixties, That's What I Am is a coming-of-age story 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 school 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. After a dramatic incident in the schoolyard, teachers and parents rethink their roles in school and society. Principal Kelner (Amy Madigan) suspends a school bully for brutally beating up a female classmate. The vindictive father of the bully makes Mr. Simon the target of a malicious rumor about his sexuality, causing Mr. Simon to question his calling as an educator and mentor to his students. When Andy watches "Big G" fearlessly confront the school bully about the incident, a series of events are triggered. Much to Andy's surprise, he learns that "Big G" is a brilliant, kind, tolerant human being, who as more dignity than anyone Andy has ever encountered. Big G personifies Mr. Simon's four word answer on how to obtain world peace: HUMAN DIGNITY + COMPASSION = PEACE. -- (c)Samuel Goldwyn Films

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Cast

Ed Harris
as Mr. Simon
Chase Ellison
as Andy Nichol
Molly Parker
as Sherri Nichol
Daniel Roebuck
as Jim Nichol
Randy Orton
as Ed Freel
Amy Madigan
as Principal Kelner
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Critic Reviews for That's What I Am

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (9)

Since a large portion of the film is taken up with the theme of school bullying, it may have some contemporary relevance, but good intentions do not always a good movie make.

Apr 29, 2011 | Rating: C | Full Review…

An entertaining, well-made plea for tolerance...

Apr 29, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A forgettable title and a barely there theatrical release don't do justice to the captivating and nostalgic coming-of-age dramedy "That's What I Am"...

Apr 28, 2011 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Mr. Harris's depiction of a saintly, soft-spoken, bow-tie-wearing middle-school teacher lends the movie a moral weight it probably couldn't have summoned had another actor played the role.

Apr 28, 2011 | Rating: 3/5

A placard preceding the film's title card assures that it's "inspired by true events," but the note is unnecessary, given the limpness of the narrative arcs. Who would make up such an anticlimactic story?

Apr 28, 2011 | Rating: D+

Lessons are learned, bullies get their comeuppance, and every Wonder Years plot device is trotted out for maximum and-I-was-never-the-same-again nostalgia.

Apr 27, 2011 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for That's What I Am

½

Cute film set in the 60s with a story that would be just as relevant set in today's culture. Definitely a "feel good" movie with heart!

Thomas Johnston
Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer

Dignity plus compassion equals peace is the message of this really enjoyable, nice little movie. As an added bonus, this was very Wonder Years-ish, complete with author narration. A good, solid story with interesting characters, and chock full of some very talented children. Ed Harris was, of course, fantastic! He adds a little special something to everything he is in...

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

"That's what I am" reminds me a bit of a cheesy wonder years rip off. The narration, the time period, the girl - and while I do say cheesy - I also must have to say, it worked magnificently! The movie had some great meaning behind it being released during WWE's waging of war on bullies while it is slightly exaggerated at points it reminds us how cruel children and humanity in general can be to those who seem a bit different then the rest of us. We all have our unique personalities, and one thing we should generally exercise is, "Tolerance" , if nothing else. This movie reminds us of being tolerant of differences and showing signs of human dignity that is hard to come by anymore. A great flick! And an awesome 'heel' performance by Randy Orton.

Bobby Hobbs
Bobby Hobbs

Super Reviewer

½

Cast: Ed Harris, Molly Parker, Randy Orton, Amy Madigan, Mia Rose Frampton, Chase Ellison, Alexander Walters, Daniel Roebuck, Sean Michael Cunningham, Cameron Deane Stewart Director: Michael Pavone Summary: A 12-year-old boy is convinced he's been pushed toward social suicide when his teacher pairs him up for a project with the school's biggest reject. But the boys form an unexpected bond when bullies turn their attention to an unlikely target. My Thoughts: "Another film from the WWE which features one of their wrestler's, Randy Orton. His part in the film was small, which made room for real actor's to shine. I have a bit of a pet peeve with wrestler's acting. Not many or if any are very good. BUT... This has to be the best movie the WWE has put out. Ed Harris. That's all I need to say as to what made me want to see this film. He is a favorite of mine and is a brilliant actor. The story is something everyone should see. Especially kids/teenagers. The film could be a great learning experience for them and some adults. It's really great of the WWE to put a light on issues kids are dealing with today with bullying. Like I said before, it's a movie you should watch with your kids if you have them, or just watch it because it's a good film."

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Super Reviewer

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