A queer teenager endures blood, sweat, and tears — yes, literally — as he stumbles down a difficult path of self-acceptance in the writer-director’s “Big Boys.” Corey Shermanis the breathtaking debut film.
The coming-of-age comedy has its West Coast premiere on Saturday, July 22 Outfest Los Angeles after well-received spring screenings London’s BFI Flare Festival and the Provincetown International Film Festival.
Sherman, who lives in Los Angeles, drew heavily on his own youth experiences when writing the screenplay for Big Boys. This infuses the film with a level of intimacy and charm uncommon 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 go camping on a remote California lake with his brother Will (Taj Cross) and cousin Allie (Dora Madison). To Jamie’s chagrin, Allie invites her new boyfriend Dan over (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 courage. Over time, the pair develop a deep bond that stirs up long-suppressed feelings in Jamie – in an endearingly awkward way.
In an interview with HuffPost conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike, Sherman said he hopes to “capture the moment.” [a queer person] comes to themselves and realizes that they are okay with the thing inside that they have been resisting for quite some time.”
“I’ve always been curious to explore that moment in someone’s life when they overcome their isolation and find a sense of belonging or a sense of self-acceptance of their own,” he added. “This is the first time Jamie has met someone he’s truly fallen in love with in this way, and he sees how exhilarating and wonderful that can be.”
In recent years, several films and television series have explored the experience of an LGBTQ+ teenager or young adult in a world where queer people enjoy advancements such as same-sex marriage, but still face an uphill struggle when it comes to consummation Equivalence.
In 2017, Moonlight became the first LGBTQ film to win the Best Picture Oscar. About a year later, Love, Simon made history as Hollywood’s first major studio film with a gay teenage protagonist and spawned a wonderful spin-off show, Love, Victor.
And next month, Netflix viewers will once again be swept away by teenage friends Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor) when popular British series Heartstopper returns for a second season.
But as the title suggests, Big Boys differs from its mainstream predecessors in that it features a burly teenage protagonist who also happens to have dreams of a hairy older man.
“Being a tall guy myself, it was important to me that the actors playing these characters have that body type,” Sherman said. “There are many people who are attracted to taller people, but in movies and TV shows, the love interest is always someone who is thin and muscular. When a larger character is portrayed as romantic, it is despite their size or because they have a good sense of humor. But Jamie is attracted to Dan in part because of his height. I wanted my film to take that seriously.”
In portraying Jamie’s dizzying crush, Sherman opted for an unusual conceit. For these scenes he has an adult actor (Jack DeSanz) takes on the role of the adult Jamie and shows him how he presents himself in intimate situations with Dan.
Given the inherent challenge of translating a teenage yearning for an adult into film, this choice prevents “big boys” from crossing the lines of good taste. For Sherman, it also made sense for Jamie to “imagine himself as a very dapper acting collegiate version of himself in a cable knit sweater because that’s who he is.”
Following this week’s Outfest screening, Sherman hopes “Big Boys” will be picked up for wider distribution, either in theaters or on a streaming platform. While he can’t go into specifics, he wants the film to broaden the scope of projects he can take on as a filmmaker in the future.
“I want to make films that seem smaller like this but also have a rich emotional life,” he said. “I love characters who wear their hearts on their sleeves and are extremely vulnerable, but also have a lot of love for the world.”
“Big Boys” will be shown on July 22nd Outfest Los Angeles. Viewers can also watch the film online July 24-30.