Monday, May 21, 2018

Movie Review: "Measure of a Man" (2018)

Director: Jim Loach
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes

A teen spends his summer at his family's annual vacation spot, only this year, instead of the usual fun-in-the-sun, he is faced with an absent best friend, an incessant bully, lots of hard work, and learning personal responsibility through a summer job.
"This time, I didn't feel like running away from a challenge." (Image Source)
Everyone has dealt with bullies, but some bullies are bigger than others. Some are the best bullies to ever exist. "Measure of a Man" is directed by Jim Loach, who is known mostly for his television work, though he does have one other feature film to his name, the little-known "Oranges and Sunshine." The film is written by "A Single Man" co-writer David Scearce and is based on the novel "One Fat Summer" by Robert Lipsyte. It stars Blake Cooper as Bobby Marks, a teenage boy who, along with his family, spends every summer up at Rumson Lake. Bobby is self-conscious about his weight and is regularly bullied because of it. His best friend Jonie Williams (Danielle Rose Russell), who has similar self-conscious feelings about the size of her nose, is also regularly bullied because of it. Bobby looks forward to spending time with Jonie this summer, but his entire vacation changes when he learns she won't be there most of the season. With little to do and wanting to avoid summer camp, Bobby decides to get a job and finds one working for the demanding Dr. Kahn (Donald Sutherland), who is looking for a caretaker for his estate. Instead of having fun, Bobby now must survive his strenuous job, his attentive boss, and his tormenting bully.
"This place doesn't like new." (Image Source)
Independent slice-of-life character sketches are more common than the cold these days. Some of them are good, some not so much."Measure of a Man" is a coming-of-age story that deals with body image and the bullying that stems from society's views towards physical appearances. Blake Cooper, who is best known as being Chuck from "The Maze Runner," offers a tremendous performance as the likable but flawed and self-conscious bullied teen Bobby Marks. We see his struggles persist as he receives constant criticism from his father (Luke Wilson). We watch him get doubted at every turn from his summer employer Dr. Kahn. We painfully view him getting straight-up tormented at the hands of local asshole Willie Rumson (Beau Knapp, who also gives a stellar performance). We also get to see how his treatment and poor self-image leads to jealousy and a bit of disdain for local hunk Pete Marino (Luke Benward), who is always kind to Bobby despite his unnecessary grudge.
"I don't have time to train a boy with no skills." (Image Source)
We can't say this film is anything new or original. Most coming-of-age flicks are formulaic, and "Measure of a Man" is no different. Still, we found ourselves enjoying this sweet movie about growing up and finding the courage to stand up for yourself despite the odds. We will admit that this message is a little muddled at times. The screenplay tries to add sympathy for Willie even though he is almost always in the wrong. It attempts to show Willie's point of view when it comes to issues he has had with his upbringing, his contempt for vacationers from out of town ruining his city and then returning home, and a couple of other things that are revealed along the way. As members of the audience, we find Willie and his actions so detestable early on that it's hard to give him any kind of pass later no matter what he is dealing with at the time.
"A man who's worth what he's paid shows some initiative." (Image Source)
Despite its flaws and its familiarity, "Measure of a Man" does enough to keep the audience interested, engaged, and rooting for Bobby to learn some valuable lessons and to (hopefully) take down his summer bully. This film might not bring much new to the table, but it is still an enjoyable journey that kept us involved throughout its runtime. It is definitely worth checking out if you get a chance.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
RT Rating: ~48%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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