My Struggle to Write Honestly About a Test of Manhood
When I was 14, I lied about my age to get a job maintaining the grounds of a nasty old man’s Hudson Valley estate. Older boys who wanted the job hassled me. By the end of that painful and exhilarating summer more than six decades ago, I had lost some 40 pounds and determined that the experience would be my first novel, a Hemingway-esque Farewell to Fat.
But it took 25 years to write the young adult book “One Fat Summer,” and it wasn’t my first novel because of the emotions evoked by bullies, girls and being fat. It was too hard to be open and honest and still feel manly.
Rereading it recently for the first time in many years, after screening “Measure of a Man,” the movie version due out this month, I still loved most of it but was struck by how certain I sounded back then about things I’m no longer so sure about. I was surprised to find that my attitudes have moved closer to the sensibilities of the film, which I had no hand in.
‘Measure of a Man’: In Bicentennial summer, a teen aims for some independence
Ah, that one summer when everything changed.
Hollywood loves Summertime Coming-of-Age Movies (SCOAM). From “Summer of ’42” to “Stand by Me,” from “Now and Then” to “The Kids Are All Right,” from “Dirty Dancing” to “Call Me By Your Name,” from “Crooklyn” to “The Way Way Back,” the SCOAM is a wonderful platform for comedy-dramas where we can identify with the insecurities, restlessness, dreams, romantic triumphs (and setbacks) and madcap adventures of the lead characters, even if their backgrounds are far different from ours.
“Measure of a Man” is just such a film. It’s a sweet and knowing and lovely and funny story, but occasionally the spell of warm nostalgia is broken by painful moments of family heartbreak and cruel bullying.
This is a movie that has us caring about the main characters from the get-go, and that’s a tribute to the direction of Jim Loach, the screenplay by David Scearce (adapting the popular and acclaimed young adult novel “One Fat Summer” by the great Robert Lipsyte), and the terrific cast of talented young actors and likable veterans.
Fine cast, strong script propel nostalgic coming-of-age tale 'Measure of a Man'
While it might not bring much that's new to the coming-of-age playbook, British filmmaker Jim Loach's sensitively-observed dramedy, "Measure of a Man," offers decisive proof that fresh and different is overrated when you've got a strong cast, a beautifully written script and fittingly measured direction.
It may be the summer of 1976, but it's business as usual for the Marks family, who is again spending it at their vacation home on New Jersey's Rumson Lake, much to the agony of overweight 14-year-old Bobby (an absolutely terrific Blake Cooper), who faces yet another year of being bullied by the resentful townies who don't take kindly to "summer people."
Not keen on facing the prospect of camp but anxious to get away from his bickering parents (Judy Greer and Luke Wilson), Bobby finds work maintaining the grounds of an expansive estate belonging to the imperious Dr. Kahn (Donald Sutherland), who proves to be a stern taskmaster and, ultimately, a fatherly mentor.
Based on Robert Lipsyte's loosely autobiographical "One Fat Summer," the screenplay by David Scearce ("A Single Man") updates the novel's 1950's setting to the U.S. bicentennial with keenly nostalgic results, accentuated by affectionate period touches and a soulful '70s score that's completely in tune with young Cooper's adroitly connected performance.
‘Measure of a Man’ is a funny, wise movie about bullying that speaks to kids and grown-ups alike
Rating: 3.5 stars
Like the sweetly self-conscious protagonist of the movie “Measure of a Man” — 14-year-old Bobby Marks, who worries about his weight while trying to navigate a summer filled with bullying and life lessons — there is a lot to love in this gently funny and wise little movie. Based on Robert Lipsyte’s semi-autobiographical 1977 young-adult novel “One Fat Summer,” the film will speak most directly to teens who, like its hero and wryly self-aware narrator, might be concerned about their physical appearance. At the same time, its story, which also deals tangentially with class tensions, religious bigotry, ethnic prejudice and homophobia, has as much to say to those kids’ parents and grandparents, who should find the film’s message as uplifting — and its unassuming central character as charming — as young people do.
Sundance: Great Point Media Launching U.S. Theatrical Distribution Arm
In a pre-Sundance Film Festival move, UK-based media fund manager Great Point Media is launching a US theatrical distribution arm with plans to release eight to 12 titles per year.
The company unveiled the plans Friday, saying that it has already assembled a full slate for 2018, with $10 million in P&A committed to date. The first release will come in March with “Submission,” writer-director Richard Levine’s adaptation of Francine Prose’s novel “Blue Angel,” starring Stanley Tucci and Kyra Sedgwick. It will open in New York on March 2 and will expand to multiple major markets on March 9.
Great Point Media’s distribution slate includes: Judy Greer’s directorial debut, “A Happening of Monumental Proportions,” starring Allison Janney, Jennifer Garner, Katie Holmes, and Common; “Measure of a Man,” a coming-of-age story directed by Jim Loach and starring Blake Cooper, Donald Sutherland, Luke Wilson, and Judy Greer; and Andrew Dosunmu’s drama “Where Is Kyra?” starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Kiefer Sutherland.
Donald Sutherland Takes ‘Measure Of A Man’; Indie Shoots In Rhode Island
EXCLUSIVE: Donald Sutherland and The Maze Runner‘s Blake Cooper are starring in Measure Of A Man, with Jim Loach (Orange and Sunshine) directing a script by David Scearce (A Single Man). The pic, an adaptation of Robert Lipsyte’s YA novel One Fat Summer, just got underway this week in Rhode Island. Christian Taylor is producing through Taylor Lane Productions with Weedon Media and Great Point Media, whose Jim Reeve and Robert Halmi are exec producing with Scearce and Erika Hampton.
Luke Wilson & Judy Greer Join ‘Measure Of A Man’
Luke Wilson and Judy Greer have joined the cast of Measure Of A Man, the independent adaptation of Robert Lipsyte’s YA novel One Fat Summer. The project, which is now shooting in Rhode Island with Jim Loach directing, also stars Donald Sutherland, Blake Cooper, Liana Liberato, Beau Knapp, Danielle Rose Russell, Luke Benward, and Sam Keeley.
Eddie Redmayne, Blake Lively board ‘Hick’
Derick Martini will helm the pic, which focuses on a 13-year-old (Moretz) from Nebraska who gets more than she bargained for when she leaves for Las Vegas.
Lively will play a grifter who meets Moretz’s character on the road and takes the girl under her wing. Redmayne would play another loner who tries luring Moretz away and also shares a past with Lively.
Andrea Portes is adapting from the novel she wrote.
Steven Siebert and Christian Taylor will produce through Siebert’s Lighthouse Entertainment shingle and Taylor’s Taylor Lane Prods. Charles de Portes is exec producing.