February 11, 2002
10:27 AM   Subscribe

Are any other fathers of daughters shuddering with helpless grief at this movie? I Am Sam, with Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer, has recieved the most abusive and the most effusive reviews. Moving exploration, or exploitative tear-fest, about the rights of disabled people to look after their children? Or is it just the ultimate weepy catharsis for Pious "New" Dads?
posted by theplayethic (27 comments total)
I was a big fan of this movie. It may be a tearjerker, but I didn't mind since they didn't go about it the way "Pay It Forward" did.
posted by jragon at 10:42 AM on February 11, 2002

I just read the Salon review, and would like to revise my statement. I didn't mind since *I didn't think* they went about it the same way "Pay It Forward" did.

But apparently, a lot of people did.
posted by jragon at 10:50 AM on February 11, 2002

One of the least exploited relationships (in Hollywood) is that between father and daughter.

Execs have realized this, and are amending this mistake.
posted by rocketman at 10:54 AM on February 11, 2002

Ever since becoming a parent, I have stayed away from all child-in-peril movies because the subject makes me lachrymose. I used to be the kind of person who enjoyed each of the films in which Macauley Culkin's character met an untimely end.
posted by rcade at 10:58 AM on February 11, 2002

I think Roger Ebert's review is interesting: "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.".
posted by biscotti at 11:03 AM on February 11, 2002

Its not exactly balanced, the reviews -- 35% on rotten tomatoes. Every reviewer I put even a scrap of faith in slammed the movie, so I've been avoiding it.
posted by malphigian at 11:09 AM on February 11, 2002

lachrymose - word of the day?
posted by asok at 11:10 AM on February 11, 2002

from Merriam Webster Collegiate

Main Entry: lach·ry·mose
Pronunciation: -"mOs
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin lacrimosus, from lacrima
Date: circa 1727
1 : given to tears or weeping : TEARFUL
2 : tending to cause tears : MOURNFUL
- lach·ry·mose·ly adverb
- lach·ry·mos·i·ty /"la-kr&-'mä-s&-tE/ noun

I learned something today! Thanks. Now I can take my nap.
posted by srboisvert at 11:11 AM on February 11, 2002

Ever since becoming a parent, I have stayed away from all child-in-peril movies because the subject makes me lachrymose.

Ditto. Except since I am an emotionally repressed bundle of ego-driven rage, it just makes me MAD. I nearly destroyed a TV with a rocks glass when my son was about 6 months old, some freaky made-for-TV molester thing on lifetime that my wife was watching. I'm just now getting to the point where I can watch ER again. Every night, they're butchering children by the bucketload on that show. Gah, what constitutes entertainment these days.
posted by UncleFes at 11:11 AM on February 11, 2002

the Merriam Webster link doesn't work ...sorry

try this instead
posted by srboisvert at 11:13 AM on February 11, 2002

I think Ebert's on the money, but that the premise fails from the get-go: Sam could not have succeeded at raising Lucy to age seven.

It's a manipulative movie, no doubt.

The interesting question I think it raises is whether it should be possible for Sam to raise Lucy with assistance. We have plenty of mentally and physically handicapped folk who are supported in living as independent a life as is possible. Perhaps that should extend to supporting them in having a family.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:14 AM on February 11, 2002

The first time my wife and I went out and left our new daughter with a babysitter, we went to see the movie A.I. - bad move on our part, watching a movie about painful child abandonment on our first venture away from our little one. Lots of guilt there...
posted by kokogiak at 11:37 AM on February 11, 2002

While I have no kids to place this movie into that personal perspective, I enjoyed this film because it gave me the opportunity to respect the hardships faced by people who have much more difficult lives than I. It's films like these which give me the necessary humbling I need when I get too caught up in my own frustrations and think that I have it "so much worse than everybody else." I also enjoyed Sean Penn's acting very much.

My issues with the movie, however, stem from something intrinsic about the way everything came across that I really cannot pin down. Yes, Michelle Pfeiffer is supposed to be crazy, frantic, and high-strung, but I think those qualities could have been conveyed just as easily without the level of drama piped into her character. The movie was a drama; however, much of it seemed overly dramatic to me. I mean, for what it's worth, they accomplished the feeling they were going for (I think), but to me, I sat there thinking like I was in a college filmmaking class learning about different good practice elements to include in a film... as if this was a good example of many.

"Okay, now, if you are making a film involving a lead character with disabilities, make sure you pay homage to movies in the past which have given you inspiration, such as Rainman. You do this by either creating a supporting character with similar disabilities, or by mentioning the actor's name from the original movie" (Both of which were a part of I Am Sam).

"Now... to achieve drama, make sure your character oversteps boundaries when she gets upset, namely by kicking things aggressively. See how she kicks the bowl full of M&Ms all over the floor because she's angry? That is a good practice, as the effects of the M&Ms flying looks good on film. And see how she kicks down that door? Using this action shows the depth of care and passion she has in the storyline."

It was a good movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it could have been better, though.
posted by Hankins at 11:44 AM on February 11, 2002

This movie is just Sean Penn masturbating ...and he wants everyone to watch.
posted by hellinskira at 12:12 PM on February 11, 2002

i saw the movie. i think i liked it, though not it a way that i can justify easily. the first twenty minutes or so just grabbed me by the heartstrings and pulled. afterwards, i felt a bit like a sucker, but the pulling felt good while it was happenning.

now the soundtrack, on the other hand.... that is really good. rufus wainwright singing "across the universe" -- you just can't beat that.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:20 PM on February 11, 2002

Isn't the fact that it's wretchedly obvious and pandering reason enough to hate it, outside of it's content?
It's meant to be entertainment, yes? If it's delivering a deeper message, it's doing it only to entertain.
Shakespear would suck if Tom Clancy wrote it. Delivery is at least 50% of these things.
posted by dong_resin at 12:23 PM on February 11, 2002

Whenever I saw the trailer I found Penn's voice so grating I had to plug my ears. Good acting, plot, story or not, I would never make it through two hours of that.

As an aside, I have found Ebert's reviews of drama to be pretty on the mark for my tastes but he is too dazzled by special effects and will give 3+ stars to any piece of garbage with good computer graphics. i.e. the awful The Haunting comes to mind.
posted by plaino at 12:24 PM on February 11, 2002

rufus wainwright singing "across the universe" -- you just can't beat that.

Bet I could beat it with a stick!
posted by rocketman at 12:25 PM on February 11, 2002

I agree with Dong. . . Does every movie released need to carry some deep social commentary?
If the movie effected you at all than it accomplished it's goal, weather you saw through the facade or not.
posted by KnitWit at 1:28 PM on February 11, 2002

Does every movie released need to carry some deep social commentary?

Three words: "Freddy Got Fingered".
posted by Danelope at 1:48 PM on February 11, 2002


I'm not sure if that helps my argument. How about,

"Does every GOOD movie released need to carry some deep social commentary?"
posted by KnitWit at 2:14 PM on February 11, 2002

Er, that wasn't so much my point, as it was that i am sam is totally hatable just for being a badly done, play to the cheap seats kind of affair, a bad example of what it was trying to be. Bad exicution, regardless of content.
I felt like a nine year old was talking down to me through out the whole movie.

Thumbs down for me.
I'm dong_resin, and I'll see you at the movies.
posted by dong_resin at 2:26 PM on February 11, 2002


That's grate.
posted by dong_resin at 2:27 PM on February 11, 2002

dong_resin... save me an aisle seat... but not for this movie. I find myself turning to the CAP reviews of movies these days as a result of metafilter. Here's part of what they had to say of I am Sam:

Let me be subjective for a moment and tell you that other than the language cyanide, I Am Sam is one of the finest pieces of entertainment I have ever seen.

As much as I liked Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking, I think I'll wait for this one to come out on free TV.
posted by bragadocchio at 2:58 PM on February 11, 2002

The first time my wife and I went out and left our new daughter with a babysitter, we went to see the movie A.I

Ha ha. Good pick! See a romance next time.
posted by HTuttle at 10:02 PM on February 11, 2002

I saw this on an Academy DVD Screener a few months back, and was in awe at how laughably bad it was. It belittles, manipulates, and (perhaps worst of all) bores the audience into submission. Most annoying to me was the notion that this mentally challenged man and his quirky group of friends: a conspiracy theorist, an autistic savant, an agoraphobe... as if to say, "Yeah, all of the headcases should hang out together." It belittles their afflictions and is aggressively naive.

Quite frankly I was surprised that a "rebel" like Sean Penn would agree to be a part of this audience assault.

Especially in light of this recent LA Times Calendar article:

It's Sean Penn's mission, and in some ways his plight, to mount a one-man battle against mindless, soul-numbing, "embarrassing" entertainment. "I'm not somebody you'd want to go to most American movies with. I'd really upset you," he warns. "I get crazy. I feel like they're [the filmmakers and the Hollywood system] are all up there saying, 'You're an idiot! You're an idiot!' And they're not just saying it to me. They're saying it to everybody around me, and some people who aren't idiots are believing it about themselves and that becomes the broad audience.
     "They're contemptuous of everything, of themselves, of everything, all wrapped up in a package of the feel-good movie of the year. They talk about violence in movies and all of that stuff. My attitude is, a bad movie is violence!"

Kettle? Hi, I'm Pot. Um, you're black.
posted by Fofer at 10:29 PM on February 11, 2002

If you liked "I Am Sam", you'll just love "The Other Sister".
posted by Optamystic at 4:19 AM on February 12, 2002

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