The difference between average movies and great movies is not budget, nor actors, necessarily. It doesn't even have to do with the story being told.
The difference has to do with how you tell the story.
There are many weight-loss stories out there; and there are many fat-person-as-the-butt-of-the-joke stories. There are many coming-of-age stories; there are also many stories of individuals conquering personal goals despite many odds. Incidentally, there are also many martial-art/inspirational movies out there. But even if you were to artfully mix them all up, I don't think you could come up with a movie as thoughtful, funny and unique as "A Matter of Size," a movie I had the pleasure of seeing last week.
"A Matter of Size" is an Israeli (and German and French) film --something you definitely do not see anyway, by default. Maybe it's the language geek within me, but it was thrilling and poetic to listen to people speaking and living in Hebrew on the big screen.
The movie leaves you thinking about how much we are willing, in our own lives and our society, to assume that we are written off just because of something; this "something" can be quite obvious, such as a weight problem --or our perception thereof-- or it can be something as ineffable as the self-imposed mental roadblocks that turn us into losers in our own minds.
The story in itself is relatively simple: five friends from a weight-loss center stumble upon the reverence and adoration for the fat-yet-fit Sumo wrestler and the culture surrounding it, thanks to Hertzl-- a lovable loser who still lives with mom and who gets a job at a Japanese restaurant whose owner used to coach Sumo in Japan.
Hilarity, romance, self-discovery and much late-night eating ensue. And at the core, you get to see a fresh and original take on the average fat-person story. I guarantee it's much better than anything Eddie Murphy or Tyler Perry could ever muster up with a fat suit, because the difference here is that there is a sweet, unfussy dignity to the way the story is told.
Yes, fat people can fall in love and be sexy; they can also be losers and push their wives to have affairs. They can be compassionate or gutsy and hard-hitting, but they can also be curmudgeonly and miserly, verging on many of the dreaded -isms.
The movie tells the story of people-- they happen to be fat, but they are still wonderful and complicated human beings, and that is what makes it great.
"A Matter of Size" opens in DC on July 2nd at the Avalon theater. Want to find out more before you go? Check out the film distributor's website at Menemsha Films.
Go see it and tell me if you agree with me!
In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I got to see this movie for free, except for the gin I bartered for babysitting duties, and the gas it took to get to the Avalon Theater. Other than that, free.