I Am Sam


I Am Sam

Critics Consensus

Not only does the manipulative I Am Sam oversimplify a complex issue, it drowns it in treacle.



Total Count: 144


Audience Score

User Ratings: 300,956
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Movie Info

Sam Dawson is a mentally challenged father raising his daughter Lucy with the help of an extraordinary group of friends. As Lucy turns seven and begins to intellectually surpass her father, their close bond is threatened when their situation comes under the scrutiny of a social worker who wants Lucy placed in foster care. Faced with a seemingly unwinnable case, Sam vows to fight the legal system and forms an unlikely alliance with Rita Harrison, a high-powered, self-absorbed attorney who initially takes his case pro bona as a challenge from her colleagues. On the surface the two couldn't be further apart, but in reality they are subtly similar. Sam's compulsive nature is mirrored in Rita's more socially acceptable obsessive-compulsive nature. Together they struggle to convince the system that Sam deserves to get his daughter back and, in the process, fuse a bond that results in a unique testament to the power of unconditional love.


Sean Penn
as Sam Dawson
Michelle Pfeiffer
as Rita Harrison
Dakota Fanning
as Lucy Dawson
Loretta Devine
as Margaret Calgrove
Laura Dern
as Randy Carpenter
Ken Jenkins
as Judge McNeily
Wendy Phillips
as Miss Wright
Mason Lucerno
as Conner Rhodes
Scott Paulin
as Duncan Rhodes
Kit McDonough
as Ms. Davis
Eileen Ryan
as Estelle
Marin Hinkle
as Patricia
Brent Spiner
as Shoe Salesman
Kathleen Robertson
as Big Boy Waitress
Karen Bankhead
as Rita's Colleague
Janet Adderley
as Obnoxious Mom
Katie McGloin
as Cristina
David Poynter
as Cafeteria Worker
R.D. Call
as Cop at Park
John Paizis
as Starbucks Father
Russ Fega
as Starbucks Angry Man
Erinn Seaghda Rive Goletz
as Starbucks Barrister
Julie Claire
as Starbucks Customer
Marnie Martin
as Starbucks Woman
Tony Abatemarco
as Court Clerk
Will Wallace
as Bill Carpenter
Scott Weintraub
as Scarecrow
Nicholas Mele
as Booking Cop
Allison Thormahlen
as Infant Lucy
Jillian Thormahlen
as Infant Lucy
Ryan Williams
as 6-Month-Old Lucy
Felicity Ann Forbes
as 18-Month-Old Lucy
Makindra Sherry Forbes
as 18-Month-Old Lucy
Elle Fanning
as 34-Month-Old Lucy
Amanda Lehaf
as 4-Year-Old Lucy
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Critic Reviews for I Am Sam

All Critics (144) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (50) | Rotten (94)

Audience Reviews for I Am Sam

  • Oct 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.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • May 28, 2012
    Sean Penn gives an excellent performance as a developmentally disabled man who needs to hire a lawyer to get custody of his daughter. Michelle Pfeiffer and Sean Penn do such a good job with their acting, that the audience will completely forget how unrealistic and far fetched the premise is.
    Bryan D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 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.
    Lucas M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 06, 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?
    Joe M Super Reviewer

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