'That's What I Am' is a coming-of-age drama with a strong performance from Ed Harris as a high school teacher.
Set in the mid-1960s, “That’s What I Am” is a creaky and slow-going morality play, written and directed by Michael Pavone. But it has one strong element – Ed Harris’s solid, understated performance as a beloved junior high school English teacher whose job is threatened when a vindictive parent openly questions his sexual orientation.
The teacher’s refusal to dignify the charges with a response comes across as believably heroic. Otherwise the performances, by such young actors as Chase Ellison and Alexander Walters, are strictly “Afterschool Special” stuff.
Since a large portion of the film is taken up with the theme of school bullying, it may have some contemporary relevance, but good intentions do not always a good movie make. Grade: C (Rated PG for thematic material throughout, language, and some bullying.)