Bobby Marx hates his family’s annual summer holidays. As a corpulent seventeen year old, the swimming and sunbathing lifestyle at the lakes are a daily razor blade of embarrassment. Fortunately, his platonic friendship with teenager Joanie Williams (Danielle Rose Russell) helps make it bearable. Similarly on the fringe on account of her hook nose, they make a fun pair, regularly chatting on walkie talkies and navigating the fairground’s nightlife. However this year will be different. For reasons, she refuses to go into, Joanie can’t stay. Left alone this time, Bobby will have to makes his own way in what will become a pivotal year for the reticent teenager.
... its tonal shifts still manage to occasionally surprise you with their boldness.
Director Jim Loach’s rose-tinted comedy drama is refreshingly sanguine on its take of American teenage rites of passage. Neither smug nor excessively sugary, ‘Measure of a Man’ treads familiar territory to many other summertime spurts. So, whilst it’s not as captivating as the seminal ‘Stand By Me’ or other growing pains dramas, its tonal shifts still manage to occasionally surprise you with their boldness. Deliberately leaving more unsaid than in many of its cinematic contemporaries, the performances here can actually breathe during the more predictable passages. Much of this can be attributed to Blake Cooper’s central performance. Cast opposite the ever-dependable rock that is Donald Sutherland, his Bobby Marks eventually holds his own, in a solidly affecting performance that is perfectly pitched for the tale at hand.
Whilst ‘Measure Of A Man’ is unlikely to dominate the summer and its passing may be quicker than a cinema listing’s page turn, it should not be written off as a teenage drama without merit. Nestling more comfortably inside a Netflix surprise addition, it will certainly be worthy of your attention when your spirits need lifting.