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A Culinary Quest for Acceptance

Living Large (La Vie, en gros)


Genre: Animation
Year Released: 2024
Runtime: 1h 20m
Director(s): Kristina Dufková
Writer(s): Petr Jarchovsky, Mikaël Ollivi­er
Cast: Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Wayne Grayson, Laurie Hymes, Preston Bowman, Kacmar Schroeder, Charlie Patton, Asher Edgecliffe, Erica Schroeder
Where To Watch: shown at the 2024 Annecy International Animation Film Festival

RAVING REVIEW: LIVING LARGE is a vibrant exploration of adolescence, threading together a tale of resilience and self-discovery. We follow this journey with Ben, a young boy who faces a rough phase as he steps into the bewildering world of puberty at 12 years old. His increasing weight draws unnecessary attention, making him a target for ridicule at school and concern at home, compelling him to take drastic measures. By deciding to go on a diet, he aims not just for a personal transformation but also to catch Claire's eye, his school crush.

As the school year ticks by, the film delves into Ben's unyielding passion for food, juxtaposed sharply with his struggle for self-acceptance. This internal conflict spills over into his interactions, particularly with his friends, who help him navigate the brutal pecking order of middle school. The antagonism between his classmate “bully” and the group of followers adds another layer of challenge. But it's not all turbulent waters; Ben finds an anchor in music. Forming a band with his friends becomes a pastime and a vital outlet for their collective experiences and personal growth.

Their journey toward a much-anticipated concert symbolizes their evolving identities and is a testament to their budding maturity. Through his artistic endeavors, Ben learns a critical lesson—the natural allure lies in one’s authenticity and the strength to overcome personal flaws, not superficial appearances.

Beyond the music and love of food, LIVING LARGE captures the intricate web of adolescent relationships. As Ben navigates the complexities of middle school, his interactions with Claire and his other friends evolve into deeper bonds that challenge and support each other’s growth. This dynamic is particularly poignant in scenes where the group confronts their insecurities and fears, transforming their vulnerabilities into strengths. These moments throughout the film enrich the narrative and offer a realistic portrayal of how young individuals learn to rely on empathy and understanding to overcome adversities. Through these relationships, the film articulates a profound message about the importance of supportive communities in fostering resilience and self-confidence among youth.

While LIVING LARGE is undeniably captivating and strikes a chord with relatable themes, it could have delved deeper into the psychological impacts of bullying and the nuances of adolescent self-esteem. The portrayal of Ben’s emotional journey, though compelling, misses out on some layers that could have intensified the audience's connection and empathy. A more pronounced focus could also have highlighted the stark contrast between his struggles and his self, enriching the portrayal of his character’s development.

LIVING LARGE tackles significant social issues through the eyes of its young protagonist, accentuating the resilience inherent in youth and the transformative power of friendship and artistic expression. The film challenges viewers to rethink traditional notions of beauty and success, potentially fostering a supportive environment for adolescents like Ben, who bravely confront the complexities of growing up.

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Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.