Monday, 23 June 2014


“Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.” - Andy Rooney

We watched a delightful film at the weekend, which surprised us pleasantly as we were expecting something a little different. It was the 2011 Mike Pavone film “That’s What I Am”, starring Ed Harris, Chase Ellison, Molly Parker, Alexander Walters and Amy Madigan. It is a coming-of-age story set in 1965 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. His gifted teacher, Mr Simon (Ed Harris), will allow Andy to grow and realise his potential through the difficult times.

The screenplay was written by the director and it has a genuineness about it, that which comes from relating personal experiences. It may be based on autobiographical details, which is also aided by the first person narrative that is used throughout the film as though a novel is being read – this in fact may be the only obvious fault of the film. Otherwise this was an engaging and winsome movie that was extremely watchable and made several points about tolerance, peaceful coexistence and realising one’s potential through doing what comes naturally and utilising one’s own talents.

The plot centres on Andy, a cool young kid who is paired off with “Big G” (Alexander Walters), a social outcast, to do a project for class. Although this seems to be a mismatch, Mr Simon (Ed Harris), their charismatic teacher can see the potential of both kids and is banking on both of them developing their characters positively through the interaction. We expected the film to develop the theme of the unlikely friendship, but this is only used to focus on other issues in the 1960s. Many of these issues are accepted today as norms but back then they were new, and hence fearful. The movie mixes humour with the dark themes, and there are some poignant twists that make one’s eye moisten.

The acting is very good all round, and Ed Harris is excellent in what is after all a supporting role. The schoolkids are what make the film and all of these young actors do a great job. Also well acted are the roles of the school principal and the parents of the children. The music, costumes, sets and cinematography are all great and they support the action with a real, believable window into the 1960s.

We enjoyed this movie a lot and would recommend it to everyone who wishes to relax and enjoy a film that makes a powerful statement about growing up and making the world a better place through tolerance, compassion and utilisation of one’s talents and abilities. It is akin to the “Wonder Years” and if you enjoyed that, you will certainly enjoy this movie as well.


  1. Checked out the trailer and it does looks good. Film duly noted for our next family popcorn night!

  2. This was a fantastic movie. Your review is excellent.