Big Boys is a strong directorial feature debut that leaves you full of laughs and love… painfully relatable awkward teenage love.
The story follows Jamie, played by the pitch perfect Isaac Krasner, as he navigates a family camping trip with his Brother Will (Taj Cross), favourite cousin Allie (Dora Madison) and a surprise guest of his cousin’s boyfriend Dan (David Johnson III) of whom he doesn’t quite realise the extent of his feelings for.
Real and tangible
This film is an absolute blast, as a sucker for camping trip movies, adding an awkward queer coming-of-age story on top of that… what’s not to love? It was such an accurate portrayal of a teenage crush that it’ll have you feeling butterflies just as much as Jamie whenever Dan appears on screen. The incredible cast all bring such humanity to their performances, having those moments of friction, just wanting to scream at each other then chatting away moments later. With each one of these characters, it feels like you’ve met all of them at some stage as there’s something so real and tangible about Big Boys, from it nailing how teenagers actually talk/act and has you feeling like you’re there getting cold in the lake or breathing in that fresh air.
Jamie questioning his sexuality, even going as far to think back to if he’s ever fancied girls is amazing to see portrayed on-screen. Just like other characters’ comments which you know they wouldn’t make if they knew, all compressing down onto him and to see his navigation of it is so fulfilling throughout the narrative. Stories like this are still so important, seeing it intelligently and accurately portrayed in the film and now for that to be celebrated with the premiere event at the BFI Southbank, it shows that when these stories are told, people listen. It also comes from Director Corey Sherman’s personal experience, which he discusses in his interview with D&CFilm which can be viewed here.
There’s a subtle naturalism to everything, awkward pauses, people saying things under their breath which has you leaning in closer to catch every detail. Such acute attention has been paid to the small idiosyncrasies of how people react when others are talking, even with the film firmly in Jamie’s perspective it does a great job at still having you empathise with the other characters, seeing their points of view, making sure not to leave them as a caricature. Much like NOPE (2022) from last year, this is such a spot on portrayal of the sibling relationship. Knowing deep down they do care for each other, it’s just hidden under 50 jokes painstakingly pointing out all of your biggest insecurities.
Feel it all
What sold this film, for me, as something special is a specific moment – a short surreal sequence. Without any dialogue, it says everything it needs to and makes you feel it all. Seeing how all-encompassing a crush at that age can be, even if you’ve only known them for a few days. You wish you could fast forward your life not just with them but for them. Skip to the happy ever after, wishing you could just wake up in your mid-thirties with them next to you. Hoping they would see you as one of the ‘big boys’. It’s an incredibly heartfelt moment with such sincerity it fills your heart with melancholic love for Jamie and your own younger self, wishing you could somehow communicate with the both of them.
Big Boys is a touching comedy exploring coming of age whilst also coming to terms with your sexuality. It was a joy to join these characters on their camping trip and it leaves you with a smile, feeling like you’ve also just been on holiday for the past hour and a half.
Big Boys premiered at BFI Flare
top image: Isaac Krasner (left) and David Johnson III Photo by Gus Bendinelli. Courtesy Perfect Dog Pictures