Teaching tolerance and loving one's self in a realistic, mature way.
|Human Dignity + Compassion = PEACE. That’s Mr. Simon’s (Ed Harris) award-winning four-word solution to world peace. Unfortunately, children are cruel, and there isn’t even peace in his 1965 junior high classroom. “That’s What I Am” is narrated by an adult Andy Nichol, who, as an awkward 13 year-old is popular enough that he gets bypassed by the bullies but he wouldn’t want to jeopardize that by socializing with the outcasts.||2011|
Directed by: Michael Pavone
Screenplay by: Michael Pavone
Starring: Ed Harris and Chase Ellison
This is just a coming-of-age story, but it’s personal, based on a true story, and completely realistic that the lessons are meaningful, not corny. This isn’t just about teenagers struggling with the awkward phases of life, or about playing up bullying for laughs, there are serious undertones to the maliciousness of kids. And it’s all too real.
Mr. Simon is the best teacher in the state of California (and there are awards to prove it). He does what he can to bring peace to the world. He pairs up Andy with Big G, the tall, skinny red-head who gets tormented each day. Big G, however, doesn’t let that get to him. That doesn’t deter the bullies, but Big G has an inner strength that allows him to stay true to himself. Andy is inspired by that. And so am I.
It tries to teach tolerance and being true to one’s self, but does so through a beautifully-told, coming-of-age story that is more adult in nature than juvenile. The events that occurred were real, and had serious implications to the well-being of society. It has taken society a lot longer to be tolerant than we would like; “That’s What I Am” doesn’t trivialize it but focuses on the personal, positive resolutions that the good characters come to. It’s real, but we also get to see the Andys of the world get the girl. I like that kind of world.
|Flipped (2010) - A thoughtful tale of first love with real characters and real story-lines.|
Mean Girls (2004) - The viciously funny reality of cattiness in high school.