That’s What I Am (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">That’s What I Am</strong> (2011)

(On-demand video, April 2012) As far as mid-sixties coming-of-age films go, That’s What I Am has almost all of the usual elements: Life lessons, befriended outcasts, wise teacher and eighth-grade first love.  It plays without surprises (although some of the expected plot beats aren’t dwelled upon –I was sure that something was going to happen to the car, for instance) but it does so with warmth and wit.  The narration is better than usual, the characters are nicely defined, there are quite a few moments of decent humanity (something that’s perhaps a bit too rare nowadays) and the film does have a certain narrative energy in finding out what’s going to happen next.  Ed Harris shines as the protagonist’s influential teacher, but the child actors all turn in some good work as the students.  I’m still trying to figure out why the film was produced by Word Wrestling Entertainment, but never mind that logo: That’s What I Am is the kind of small-expectations movie that fills up a nice quiet evening.  It’s perhaps not special enough to warrant an effort to seek, but it’s absolutely fine at what it attempts to be.

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