That’s What I Am (2011) Michael Pavone

I have sucked as of late getting numbers so for that I apologize.  I do know this movie was big enough of a flop that the head of WWE Films was sacked for it.  This was their attempt at making a film that critics would enjoy and it tanked.

That’s What I Am follows Andy (Chase Ellison) through his last year of junior high.  Andy has many of the typical problems of children his age such as his first crush involving a girl in his class.  Those problems are made worse though when Andy’s favorite teacher Mr. Simon (Ed Harris) makes Andy work on a semester long project with a kid known as “Big G” (Alexander Walters).  Big G is the subject of ridicule at the school for not only being a nerd but for his unusually large body for his age.  Andy has to learn to deal with the intolerant children at school while Mr. Simon is caught up in intolerance of his own as a rumor spreads through the school he is a homosexual.

I am very familiar with WWE Films.  In addition to reviewing The Chaparone (which is one of the unfunniest comedies ever) I have seen most of their other films.  I can tell you the reason this movie failed because I got the same reaction seeing the trailer as I’m sure everyone else had.  It’s that “here we go again” type of feeling.  It is like (to use a simile involving this movie) walking down the hall expecting your daily swirly from the school bully.  The audience came to the decision they did not prefer any more swirlies and chose to transfer to a different school.  The problem is…

 

Ugh, I can’t even say it.  It is like bile in my throat.  The problem is…

That’s What I Am is not a bad movie.  I could go so far as to say it is a good movie.

This is the problem with text reviews because you can’t see the fact I had to projectile vomit for the past few hours due to the fact I had to pay a compliment to WWE Films.  If I had to say one reason why this isn’t a bad movie, is because it does nothing to associate itself with wrestlers or making a shitty wrestler oriented action movie.  Yes, I know the movie was billed as having starred WWE Superstar Randy Orton, but he is not really IN this movie.  I’m reminded of the movie Casino, where Robert DeNiro’s character had to appease the licensing commission by hiring the commissioner’s dumbass cousin.  DeNiro’s character tried putting the putz in the position that would cause the least amount of damage.  That’s what they did with Randy Orton’s character.  I’m not even sure his character has a name.  They just put him in as Bigoted Dad #2 so they could put him in the trailer to draw in the wrestling fans.  I think we all got spoiled with The Rock and his acting abilities none of these other Superstars can act.  If your movie stars Steve Austin, HHH, Big Show, Ted Dibiase, or whoever, then I don’t want to see it.  I can barely believe they can dress themselves in the morning let alone play whatever role you have for them.  Your movies suck because you have to make your movie so shitty in order to give the appearance the wrestler isn’t the worst part of it.

In this movie they let the real actors do their part.  They actually find some good child actors which carry the movie.  Even Ed Harris, who is in a limited supporting role, gives a performance so good at one time I got a little misty eyed.  That’s what I care about.  I want good characters along with good actors to pull them off.  Unless you are making a cheesy wrestling B movie where you have the wrestlers play wrestlers (far out concept, I know), then I really don’t give a crap about the WWE Superstars.

That’s What I Am can probably be described as a 90 minute episode of The Wonder Years.  We have our resident Kevin Arnold going through adolescence and learning a good life lesson by the end of it.  Heck, we even get a narration from an older Andy through the whole movie.  Sadly the narration isn’t done by Daniel Stern.  Much of the humor comes from the “quirky” stuff kids get into at that age.  It is all balanced out by a nice message about tolerance and understanding.

Now this isn’t a great movie.  The script is predicable, the writing is hammy at times, and like I mentioned earlier, this feels more like a long television episode rather than a movie.  But in terms of the expectations I had and the difficult task the director had (making a single WWE Film that didn’t suck) then I consider it a success.  It is not good enough that I would recommend that people go watch it, but if you were at all interested by it, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot.  It is a sweet enough movie that I don’t think anyone will have a problem with.

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