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I Am Sam

8/10
Drama
 

Sam has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old. He has a daughter with a homeless woman who abandons them when they leave the hospital, leaving Sam to raise Lucy on his own. But as Lucy grows up, Sam's limitations start to become a problem and the authorities take her away. Sam shames high-priced lawyer Rita into taking his case pro bono and in turn teaches her the value of love and family.

 
Actors: Dakota Fanning , Michelle Pfeiffer , Sean Penn , Joseph Rosenberg , Brad Silverman , Laura Dern , Richard Schiff , Loretta Devine , Marin Hinkle , Dianne Wiest
Directors: Jessie Nelson
Country: USA
Release: 2002-01-25
More Info:
  • Lou Lumenick

    Penn makes us take the leap required by Kristine Johnson and Jessie Nelson's screenplay -- you end up deeply caring about Sam and Lucy.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    Not about the justice or injustice of the legal system. Rather it's about the tragedy of Sam's predicament.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Frank Lovece

    Penn's stark and unvarnished portrait of the challenged Sam makes even the hardest-to-swallow plot acceptable.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • Kevin Thomas

    A warm, hard-to-resist story.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Michael Wilmington

    The role sounds like a sentimental trap, but Penn doesn't fall into it. It's a sensational performance, and he illumines a movie that sometimes seems in danger of descending into modish Hollywood political correctness.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Jay Carr

    Ham-handedly manipulative film.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    The kind of performance Penn delivers in I Am Sam, which may look hard, is easy, compared, say, to his amazing work in Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown."

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    The cancer of dishonesty begins to grow half an hour into the film, and it riddles the picture by the end.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    Just don't believe the anti-hype. There are lots of reasons to have a good cry these days -- here's a nice, warm place to get squeezed.

    Slate Full Review
  • Owen Gleiberman

    The dumbing down of low-IQ sentimentality.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Sean Axmaker

    I can imagine the pitch meeting: "It's 'Kramer vs. Kramer' meets 'Forrest Gump.' No, wait, 'Rainman' has a baby!"

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • F. X. Feeney

    By-the-numbers Oscar bait -- but Penn does manage, against such odds, to make us see Sam as a person, not a performance.

    L.A. Weekly Full Review
  • Dana Stevens

    Not a bad movie, and its intentions are unimpeachable. But its sentimentality is so relentless and its narrative so predictable that the life is very nearly squeezed out of it.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Shawn Levy

    This isn't an ordinary film built on a remarkable performance; it's a poor one with a gem at its core. Penn can elevate it to mediocrity, but he cannot make it fly.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    I Am Sam is about as connected to the real world as Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham, from which its title is derived -- in fact, in the realism department, Seuss may have the edge.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Contrived, manipulative and shamelessly sentimental, this film is notable for the courageous reach of Sean Penn, who gives a bold, heartfelt performance.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Rita Kempley

    Well-intentioned but ludicrous tale.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Lisa Alspector

    It’s a heart-tugging scenario undermined by a striking hypocrisy: obscuring a hot-button issue in casting, some actors with Down's syndrome have minor roles, while Penn plays the lead -- and chews the scenery.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • David Sterritt

    The film means well, but each scene gets clobbered by sappy screenwriting.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Jami Bernard

    It's a difficult issue, one that is not well served by a hollow confection like I Am Sam.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Mike Clark

    Drawn out and dishonest in equal measure, Sam fights it out with "The Majestic" for the title of worst "important" movie of the year.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Michael Sragow

    The film is so busy that every minute is exhausting. It's as if the filmmakers were idealistic teen-agers afflicted with a group case of Attention Deficit Disorder.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Ron Wells

    Is this what Sean Penn has come to in his 40s? He hasn't appeared this retarded since he was married to Madonna.

    Film Threat Full Review
  • Desson Thomson

    The movie that Disney uses to explore this premise drips with so much corporate good-neighbor syrup, you might want to wear something waterproof. And Penn's performance is, at best, ripe for discussion.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Robert Koehler

    An especially insipid example of the Hollywood message movie.

    Variety Full Review
  • Robert Wilonsky

    In one of the year's most woefully manipulative and oppressively pandering offerings: I Am Sam, a dolled-up TV movie-of-the-week masquerading as profound cinema.

    New Times (L.A.) Full Review
  • Steve Davis

    It's a bad movie that only a parent could love.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Charles Taylor

    Penn's portrayal strikes me as equally insensitive. It's the nightmare performance of 2001.

    Salon.com Full Review
  • Michael Atkinson

    Actual concussive cranial abuse would be preferable to Jessie Nelson's I Am Sam.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Richard Corliss

    As the director of this noble weepie, Nelson so overuses visual tricks -- zooms, zip pans and multiple perspectives on a simple scene -- that she turns the viewer into an exasperated parent; this is a directorial style in need of a spanking.

    Time Full Review
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