Set in California in the mid-’60s, “That’s What I Am” is a coming-of-age story about a 12-year-old, Andy Nichol (Chase Ellison), who just wants to make it through the day, incognito to his fellow students to avoid any negative attention or ridicule. Then he gets paired with an outcast, Stanley aka “Big G” (Alexander Walters), by his favorite teacher Mr. Simmons (Ed Harris) for a vital school project. Stanley has been the object of taunting ever since he was young, having fiery orange hair, a head too big for his body and ears too big for his head.
Some dramatic events occur at the school and the principal (Amy Madigan) suspends the school bully for brutally beating up a female student. As the young girl’s father Ed Freel (Randy Orton) seeks revenge and retribution for the crime committed against his daughter, he turns his sights onto Mr. Simmons and blames him for the attack. When Mr. Freel starts vicious rumors about Mr. Simmons, it causes a controversy that threatens to destroy his reputation and career. As Andy watches “Big G” fearlessly confront the bully and stand up for what he believes is right, it is only then he realizes that things aren’t always as they appear at first glance and maybe being different isn’t so bad as long as you know who you are and stay true to yourself.
Using the time period of the ’60s, there is a certain nostalgia about the film, during a time of social and economic changes, the world seem to be growing at an alarming rate, especially in the mind of a boy in middle school.
There are a lot of themes in this trailer and among them are self acceptance, peace, compassion and dignity. “That’s What I Am” looks to be an inspirational story that will show the growth both mentally and physiologically of young Andy and his interactions with the people around him. I am a sucker for a good underdog story or one that emphasizes truth and acceptance. We all have been taunted at one point in our lives, it’s part of being human. Only when we learn those facts and accept them in others can we try to find peace in ourselves and the world.
“That’s What I Am” is rated PG for thematic material, language and bullying. It opens in limited release April 28.
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