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
Rating:
PG (for thematic material throughout, language and some bullying.)
Genre:
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

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Cast

Ed Harris
as Mr. Simon
Amy Madigan
as Principal Kelner
Molly Parker
as Sherri Nichol
Daniel Roebuck
as Jim Nichol
Randy Orton
as Ed Freel
Chase Ellison
as Andy Nichol
Daniel Yelsky
as Norman
Mia Rose Frampton
as Mary Clear
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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.

Full Review… | April 29, 2011
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | April 28, 2011
New York Post
Top Critic

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"...

Full Review… | April 28, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

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.

April 28, 2011
New York Times
Top Critic

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?

Full Review… | April 28, 2011
AV Club
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | April 26, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

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

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