Penn repeatedly hits the ball out of the park, but the rest of the team never gets past first base.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
It's a sensational performance, and [Penn] illumines a movie that sometimes seems in danger of descending into modish Hollywood political correctness.
On one level, I Am Sam is a crock, but on another, more vital one, it's very, very sweet.
Plays out in such a conventional manner that it feels like a TV movie of the week from the '70s.
For a movie that probes the sensitive issue of living with reduced mental capacity, are the creators of Bambi the obvious choice?
| Original Score: 1/5
A well-intentioned but ludicrous tale.
| Original Score: 1.5/5
The kind of movie so punishingly sweet -- and intellectually vapid -- it should come with a blood sugar alert.
So drenched in sweetness that it's devoid of reality, and so free of leavening flavors that, despite some good performances, it's ultimately sickening.
Deserves to be remembered for Sean Penn's remarkable performance as a mentally challenged man.
| Original Score: 3/4
Like Penn, Pfeiffer takes what is essentially an obvious, insulting character and turns it inside-out.
The movie's magic is that we feel more rewarded than manipulated.
Attaches a vastly overqualified company to a soggy, flamboyantly manipulative script.
| Original Score: 1/4
Wears its heart on its sleeve but keeps its brains in its pocket.
It's similar to a superficially hip and irreverent, yet fundamentally sentimental, TV show.
Penn and Pfeiffer carry I Am Sam further into plausibility than it has any right to expect.
It shows us that intellect and love are indeed related -- inversely.
Every device of the movie's art is designed to convince us Lucy must stay with Sam, but common sense makes it impossible to go the distance with the premise.
| Original Score: 2/4
Penn's mentally retarded Sam Dawson will melt your heart and leave you chanting, 'Oscar! Oscar! Get this guy an Oscar!!'
As maudlin, mawkish and shameless a heartwringer as ever contrived.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
A movie that shows you its cards and dares you not to fold, to give in and get out that hanky.
Penn makes it easy to forgive the movie's lapses.
Feels too contrived to be truly touching.
You have no idea how grating and hypocritical treacle can be until you've watched this picture.
| Original Score: D+
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.
The dumbing down of low-IQ sentimentality.
| Original Score: C-
Penn's best work in years.
[P]lays like a made-for-TV weeper with an A-list cast.
Another spectacular workout by the versatile and indefatigable Sean Penn saves the sudsy I Am Sam from the rinse cycle.
Contrived, manipulative and shamelessly sentimental, this film is notable for the courageous reach of Sean Penn.
Plays the audience as crassly and heartlessly as any studio-tooled tear-jerker.
Undone by its best intentions, I Am Sam is an especially insipid example of the Hollywood message movie.
Reduces Penn, one of the best screen actors working today, to a mugging embarrassment.
Pounds its noble intentions and emotional intensity into your head until you can't help but cry -- in physical pain from all the pummeling.
It works magic because of Penn, who disappears into the character so thoroughly that even Dustin Hoffman ... would be jealous.
| Original Score: 3/4
A most inviting and accessible film that turns upon a mental condition that most people would prefer not to think about.
| Original Score: 3.5/5
Its sentimentality is so relentless and its narrative so predictable that the life is very nearly squeezed out of it.
| Original Score: 2/5
TV-movie territory with three great performances. But I started crying 20 seconds into the movie and didn't stop till it was over.
It glosses over reality on so many occasions that it's hard to take seriously.
The treacle and showboat handicap impressions flow like half-and-half.
Raises important issues about the mental handicapped and nontraditional families that deserve a much smarter examination.