When his teacher (Harris) pairs 12 year-old Andy Nichol (Ellison) with the class pariah, it sparks an odd-couple friendship that changes the teenager forever.
And enjoyable but familiar take on ‘60s US adolescence, That’s What I Am follows 12 year-old Andy (Chase Ellison) as he pines for blonde cutie Mary Clear (Mia Rose Frampton, daughter of rock star Peter), learns lessons in tolerance from inspirational teacher Ed Harris and forms an unlikely bond with social outcast Big G (Alexander Walters) as they bond over a school project. From The Wonder Years-esque voiceover to the stock dramatis personae — the life-changing teacher, the gentle giant, the unobtainable girl — this offers little in the way of surprises and its messaging comes with an earnest tone. But the performances are strong — Harris gives his teacher powerful reserve and dignity, Ellison makes for a winning lead — and the individual set-pieces have an easygoing charm.
Charming but conventionally plotted, it's a gentle ride that's lit up by compelling turns from Harris and Ellison.