I Am Sam - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

I Am Sam Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 9, 2006
This film, upon its release reeked of Oscar bait. Ten years later, that smell still lingers. I mean, how could it not? It's about a well meaning developmentally disabled man struggling to reclaim custody of his daughter, and prove that he is capable of raising her, even though she is smarter than him.

Here's the thing: I'm not an ogre, and I do have a soul. I recognize that this film is sweet, well meaning, and very charming. It has nothing but good intentions. However, this film tries a bit too hard, and is too reliant on cliches and formula. The references to Kramer Vs. Kramer were a nice litle touch, though.

Yeah, this film is heartwarming, and inspiring, but it's overbearing, and it is a feel-good movie to the extent that none of it is really earned. I feel like the film went to a route that was expected and that it did so just because the filmmakers felt levity over reality would be better. Sometimes I'm okay with that, but in this case, I just couldn't get onboard.

I do like the performances though. The cast is likeable, and they all put a lot of effort into things, but, like the film overall, they try to hard, hence why Sean Penn got a nomination, but went home empty-handed. He took it too far. His performance isn't offensive, and it is sensitive, but he could have made an effort to dial it down because a little goes a long way.

I'm ripping on this movie, but I don't totally hate it. I liked the soundtrack, and the idea to use nothing but Beatles songs was very inspired. Using the originals would have been better, but these are some good covers, so it's okay.

You can go out and see this if you want, but don't expect it to be a completely satisfying experience, even though there are some good moments to be found.
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2012
Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, 'Rain Man,' look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Counted toothpicks, cheated cards. Autistic, sho'. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, 'Forrest Gump.' Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition. That ain't retarded. He was a god damn war hero, do you know any retarded war hero's?
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2012
I Am Sam presents great actings of the cast and bring a cute, confused and nice story. But the strong sentimentalism, don't save the film. Rotten.
Super Reviewer
½ December 10, 2011
I Am Sam is a wonderful drama film. Director Jessie Nelson directs this story about a mentally disabled adult named Sam. Sam has the mental capacity of a child and he has a daughter named Lucy. Unfortunately, Lucy is growing in intellectual capacity, and it's raising important questions. Sam Dawson is brilliantly played by Sean Penn and there is a great cast starring opposite him. The film is sad and is a very good film with a great story. The acting is brilliant, and this is a memorable drama film. Sean Penn is great here, and he has good on-screen chemistry with actress Dakota Fanning. The film at times is uneven, but that doesn't make I Am San any less enjoyable. The film has heart, and like I said the stand out aspect of the film is Sean Penn's performance. This is a well made film, and director Jessie Nelson has made a great film and is entertaining from start to finish. Penn makes this film work very well, and he delivers one of his best performances. I Am Sam is an enjoyable film that touching, sad, funny and heartwarming. As far as drama films are concerned, I Am Sam is great little film that is impossible not to like. The cast make this film better, and they really elevate the story and film a bit more. Despite its flaws, I Am Sam is worth watching and once you do, you're sure to enjoy it. A very good film from start to finish, and with a cast like this, it is a winner.
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2010
This is a story a father named Sam that is mentally retarded. He is raising his kid at the best of his ability by him self and with the help of friends.
One-day social workers decide to take Fanning away from Sam. That causes Sam to go a lawyer that only cares about money but over time she takes Sam case. As she fights the case her character changes for the better. The relationship between Sam and fanning is totally. This film has some really good acting and a good plot. Tom hanks do a good acting job in this film. If you really like touching dramas you should give this a try.
Super Reviewer
May 5, 2007
Were I to be a cynical critic, I might have entitled this film as "Sean Penn goes Oscar-fishing". And sure, that may be true to some extent. But it wouldn't really be fair to it, as his acting is actually quite tremendous. Playing someone who is mentally handicapped can't be an easy job to take on, yet he does so convincingly and with grace. It was also nice to see Michelle Pfeiffer again in a somewhat newly produced film. Last movie I saw her in was Stardust, and that was almost three years ago. The award for best performance though, goes without question to Dakota Fanning. She is really adorable as the daughter of Sean Penn's character, and gives absolute proof of why she's one of our time's greatest child actors (or more correctly was, as she's a teenager by now). Anyhow, the story does tends to lean a bit towards pretentiousness, and I cringed now and then at the thick layer of sentimentality. But it's got a lot of heart, no doubt, and had me quite moved at the end by its great human warmth. A film about parenting, love and society's prejudice against the mentally challenged. Too blemished and melodramatic to reach greatness, but certainly worth the investment of your time and emotions.
Super Reviewer
½ September 4, 2007
i liked this movie, wasnt as emotional as i thought it would be, but still tugs at the heart strings!
its wonderfully acted and ilove the storyline, michelle pfeiffer is goreous as ever, worth the watch!
Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2009
God, I hated this movie. Had to watch it for a psych class. I liked Dakota Fanning the best.
Super Reviewer
½ September 8, 2007
"love is all you need"

Sean Penn stars in this drama as Sam Dawson, a developmentally disabled adult who has been working at a coffee shop and raising his daughter Lucy (Dakota Fanning) for seven years. Sam receives help in his parenting duties from a circle of trusted confidantes, including his ADD-afflicted best friend Ifty (Doug Hutchison), the paranoid Robert (Stanley DeSantis), an agoraphobic neighbor (Dianne Wiest), and his other disabled pals, Brad and Joe (played by real-life developmentally challenged actors Brad Silverman and Joseph Rosenberg). Although he provides a structured and loving environment for Lucy that includes regular visits to IHOP, video nights, and karaoke, Sam's daughter is beginning to surpass him in mental acuity. When Lucy begins intentionally stunting her own growth so as not to hurt her beloved father, social worker Margaret (Loretta Devine) takes action, removing the girl from her home and placing her in the temporary care of a foster mother, Randy (Laura Dern). As the day of his hearing looms, Sam seeks out the aid of driven, obsessive lawyer Rita Harrison (Michelle Pfeiffer), who takes the case only to prove to her colleagues that she is willing to accept pro bono work. Opposed by county lawyer Turner (Richard Schiff) in court, Rita gradually comes to care for her client and his daughter, even as they force her to consider the limitations of her own abilities as a parent. The soundtrack for I Am Sam (2001) gained considerable critical attention, consisting entirely of Beatles cover songs by such contemporary artists as The Black Crowes, Eddie Vedder, the Wallflowers, and Aimee Mann, among others.

This movie was very emotionally involving and rife with the talent of all actors included. Sean Penn did a remarkable job portraying Sam and a very young Dakota Fanning also gave an outstanding performance as his daughter Lucy. Michelle Pfeiffer was also wonderful as Sam's lawyer Rita. The plot was very well thought out and certainly unique. I loved it. While there were certainly moments of sadness, the times of profound joy at other points in this movie certainly counteracted them, making it a fabulous film that I would highly recommend to other viewers. 5/5
Super Reviewer
½ August 21, 2008
I Am Sam is one of those manipulative pieces of cinema that favours mallets over the head as opposed to intelligent subtlety. The film has no less than 5 break down into tears and give huge speeches moments. I would expect when people are really that upset and emotionally open it would be harder to string together cohesive sentences and put forth strong convincing arguments but apparently not. Of course everybody learns a valuable lesson from Sam's exploits and in turn improve their own life. YAY! If you're the kind of person that needs explicit signs to inform you "This scene is sad", "This scene is happy" you may squeeze a lot of enjoyment out of this. Penns performance often balances on the hilarious and Pfeiffers hard ass with a heart of gold lawyer comes from a little town called cliche. It goes on too long, especially since I know how it is going to end from the outset. It never once questions that perhaps Sam may not have the capacity to be a father, and rather than deal with difficult issues such as maybe showing a scene where he does hit a child or does put his daughter in danger, this is far too lovely and simple.
Super Reviewer
½ July 29, 2008
I Am Sam is a movie that is able to show what a relationship between parent and child was meant to be. Whatevery good parent, and child should long for.

The actors were great, the storyline was great, and the entire concept was well done. The only reason I did not give this movie a perfect five was because I was no fan of the sudden-end. I felt that the rest of the movie was so good the ending was a little inexcusable, but it was a great movie.
Super Reviewer
½ February 13, 2007
A film I'm really fond of, I remember the first tim of watching this, at the beginning I thougt it was going to be a rip off of Rain Man, but Sean Penn made this character his own and the onscreen relationship between him and Dakota was pure chemistry. The story itself makes you ponder the dilemma, whilst also bringing a smile to your face.
Super Reviewer
September 28, 2007
Great movie, but the constanly zooming in camera throughout the ENTIRE movie about put a gun in my mouth.
Super Reviewer
June 2, 2007
Sean Penn is just brilliant. Its really sad but its amazing.
Super Reviewer
November 25, 2006
one of the best movies I've ever seen. so touching. the cast is great, Sean Penn deserved the oscar for this movie
Super Reviewer
November 7, 2006
Super Reviewer
½ August 29, 2006
I cried quite a lot in this film. Sean Penn is excellent in this as is dakota fanning as his daughter-highly recomended!
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2006
A beautiful story, but I've got some problems with Sean Penn.
Super Reviewer
March 13, 2006
A great sequal to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I'm glad Spicolli settled down and had a kid who loves the Beatles.
Super Reviewer
October 22, 2013
Something to warm the hearts of audiences but ultimately this feels contrived. Penn appears to be apeing rather than becoming mentally disabled. At its worst, it actually causes us to alienate his character and hope that he doesn't end up with the kid after all.
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