‘Big Boys’ Get The Blues In This Sweet And Sublime Coming-Of-Age Comedy

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A queer teen endures blood, sweat and tears ― yes, literally ― as he stumbles his way toward a prickly path of self-acceptance in “Big Boys,” writer-director Corey Sherman’s stunning debut feature.

The coming-of-age comedy will make its West Coast premiere on Saturday, July 22, at Outfest Los Angeles after well-received spring showings at London’s BFI Flare Festival and the Provincetown International Film Festival.

Sherman, who is based in Los Angeles, drew heavily on his own youthful experiences while writing the “Big Boys” screenplay. As a result, the movie is imbued with a level of intimacy and charm that feels unusual on the big screen, even for an independent production.

The film follows Jamie (played by Isaac Krasner), a 14-year-old boy who is excited to join his brother Will (Taj Cross) and cousin Allie (Dora Madison) on a camping trip by a secluded California lake. To Jamie’s chagrin, Allie invites her new boyfriend, Dan (David Johnson III), to join the adventure.

Watch the trailer for “Big Boys” below.

At first, Jamie feels intimidated by Dan, who exudes confidence and cocky bravado. Over time, the pair form a heartfelt bond that arouses long-suppressed feelings within Jamie ― in an endearingly awkward way.

In an interview with HuffPost conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike, Sherman said he hoped to capture “the moment [a queer person] comes out to themselves and realizes that they are OK with the thing inside themselves that they’ve been resisting for quite some time.”

“I’ve always been curious in exploring the moment in someone’s life when they push past their isolation and find a sense of belonging, or come into their own sense of self-acceptance,” he added. “This is the first time Jamie has met someone that he’s really let himself fall for in this way, and he sees just how intoxicating and wonderful it can be.”

In recent years, a number of films and TV series have examined the experience of being a LGBTQ+ teen or young adult in a world where queer people enjoy advancements such as same-sex marriage, but are nonetheless facing an uphill battle when it comes to full equality.

From left: Taj Cross, Isaac Krasner and David Johnson III in
From left: Taj Cross, Isaac Krasner and David Johnson III in “Big Boys.”

Gus Bendinelli/Perfect Dog Pictures

In 2017, “Moonlight” became the first LGBTQ-themed film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. About a year later, “Love, Simon” made history as Hollywood’s first major studio film to feature a gay teen protagonist and spawned a wonderful spinoff show, “Love, Victor.”

And next month, Netflix viewers will once again be swept away by teen boyfriends Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor) when the beloved British series “Heartstopper” returns for a second season.

But as its title suggests, “Big Boys” differs from those mainstream predecessors by featuring a larger-bodied teen as its protagonist, who also happens to fantasize about a hirsute older man.

“As a big guy myself, it was important to me that the actors who played these characters would be that body type,” Sherman said. “There are a lot of people who are attracted to bigger people, but in movies and TV shows, the love interest is always someone who is thin and muscly. If a bigger character is presented as worthy of romance, it’s in spite of their size, or it’s because they have a good sense of humor. But Jamie is attracted to Dan in part because of his size. I wanted my movie to take that seriously.”

In depicting Jamie’s giddy crush, Sherman opted for a unusual conceit. For those scenes, he has an adult actor (Jack De Sanz) step in to portray a grown-up Jamie to show the character imagining himself in intimate situations with Dan.

“I’ve always been curious in exploring the moment in someone’s life when they push past their isolation and find a sense of belonging,” filmmaker Corey Sherman told HuffPost.

Katie Waldron/Perfect Dog Pictures

Given the inherent challenge in translating a teenager’s pinings for an adult on film, that choice prevents “Big Boys” from stepping outside the confines of good taste. To Sherman, it also made sense for Jamie to “picture himself as a very put-together, collegiate version of himself in a cable-knit sweater, because that speaks to who he is.”

Following its Outfest screening this week, Sherman is hopeful that “Big Boys” will be picked up for wider distribution, either in cinemas or on a streaming platform. And though he’s tight-lipped on specifics, he’d also like the movie to broaden the scope of projects he’s able to tackle as a filmmaker in the future.

“I want to make movies that feel smaller scale, like this one, but also have a rich emotional life to them,” he said. “I love characters who wear their hearts on their sleeve and are extremely vulnerable, but also have a lot of love to give to the world.”

“Big Boys” will be screened on July 22 at Outfest Los Angeles. Viewers also will be able to watch online from July 24 to July 30.

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