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  • Aug 9, 2010
Sean Penn is one actor that seems to never get the recognition he deserves; he's a fabulous actor in any movie I've seen him in; in "I Am Sam" he was simply superb.


Penn plays the character Sam, an honest, hardworking, patient, delightful, very wise and humble man - who is challenged with the mentality of an 8 year old.  He is handed his newborn baby daughter by the mother who quickly runs away on a bus; she wants nothing to do with a baby, and Sam is completely in the dark as to what to do with a brand new baby.  Sam loves the Beatles and names her Lucy from the song "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" - in fact, the whole movie soundtrack is loaded with Beatle's tunes.

Delightful things happen when Sam changes her diaper (he just doesn't know how), when he goes to the supermarket to shop for essentials (he has no idea what he's looking for and gets confused) and he can't figure why she cries all night, until his kindly neighbor, played by Dianne Wiest, helps him with the basics.  "She needs a bottle every 2 hours Sam" - he gently touches his baby and tells her he's sorry.  The movie only keeps her as a baby for a short time, as she quickly goes from newborn to a child, played brilliantly by Dakota Fanning.

Sam may be slow, but he's never short on wisdom and patience, and he adores Lucy, and she adores him.  Sam also has a group of mentally challenged friends who fall in love with her and help him along the way in raising her; they may not do everything right skill-wise, but Lucy is never love compromised. There are many humorous parts in this movie that are so heart felt, you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I'll say it again; the acting is brilliant by both Penn and Fanning, and any and all scenes in this movie are gripping and genuinely felt by the viewer.

The point comes when Lucy is surpassing her father's knowledge; her teachers at school are realizing it, and Social Services need to take Lucy away from her daddy, because he's "just too slow and not as intelligent as his own 6 year old" - now is the time to grab your box of tissues.....

She is placed in a foster home with Laura Dern playing the foster mom.  Sam is completely lost without her, flashbacks play with scenes of him and Lucy sharing their love, (totally tear-jerking scenes) and he can not understand why love isn't enough to raise his daughter.  Lucy is also devastated by the separation; Sam needs an attorney to get her back.


Michelle Pfeiffer plays his lawyer, who takes the case pro-bono.  She has her own unique personal problems, and as the movie proceeds, you will clearly see that she needs someone like Sam in her life to help with her own problems.  With his innocent wisdom, he shows her what love is really all about.  The relationship between Pfeiffer and Penn also is brilliantly portrayed; they have their ups and downs, both as attorney/client and as a progressing friendship is forming.

I will not spoil the rest of the movie for you; just know it ends better than what I had anticipated (thank God, my gut was hurting from all the crying), and this movie is truly the BEST drama I have ever seen.

The acting was absolutely superb; you can feel every emotion in every second of this film. The story line and writing could not have been better, with a mixture of wisdom, humor, spirit, devastation, hurt, and most of all, LOVE. I saw no flaws in this film whatsoever; it was true to reality and a roller coaster of emotions. 

No matter what kind of movie you prefer to watch, this is a definite must-see for everyone.


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September 02, 2010
Sean Penn I believe has gotten better over the years. I truly believe he is a fine actor. I never had the chance to see this flick, yet your review sparks my interest. A good, but odd movie with Mr. Penn is "U Turn". The Straw Man
September 02, 2010
I don't remember if I saw U-Turn or not; I'm bad about remembering the names of movies. I hope you see this one; the best performance I have seen from any actor in a long time.
August 10, 2010
simple yet effective story, stellar performances! I loved this movie--such a wonder Penn didn't bag the Best Actor award for this during that year. Nice review!
August 10, 2010
I know it -- I don't know who beat him out in the actor category when he was nominated, but that sucks.
August 11, 2010
I can't remember who beat him but I do remember screaming 'unfair' at my TV set. BTW, I featured this in the community. :)
August 11, 2010
HA screaming at the TV!! I like that. Thanks for the feature.
August 10, 2010
Great review, in fact I need to watch this again, it has been years.
August 10, 2010
Thank you. Watching it the second time was easier for me cause I didn't cry as hard! LOL but it seems the more you watch it, the warmer ya feel!
More I Am Sam reviews
review by . May 18, 2004
Pros: Penn, Fanning, Sam's friends, sweet, moving     Cons: Predictable, unrealistic, manipulative, Michelle Pfeiffer     The Bottom Line: Sean Penn is Sam. Sam he is.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. During I am Sam, I forgot that I was watching Sean Penn portraying a mentally handicapped man. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but that’s the mark of great acting. Like Charlize Theron in …
review by . January 10, 2004
Pros: Great soundtrack, fantastic acting, meaningful and emotional story     Cons: Absolutely nothing, except the amount of tissues I had to use     The Bottom Line: This is a great emotional, meaningful story. Make sure you grab a box of tissues!
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Brenda ()
Ranked #70
I love to read mysteries and thrillers; I am addicted to scary psychological thrillers and horror movies; "The Exorcist" and "Silence of the Lambs" being 2 of my favorites. I love … more
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About this movie


Sam Dawson (Sean Penn), a man with a developmental disability, lives in Los Angeles, works at Starbucks, and is the sole guardian of his six-year-old daughter Lucy (Dakota Fanning), after her mother abandoned them. Despite his limitations, Sam is well-adjusted and has a supportive group of friends with developmental disabilities, as well as a kind, agoraphobic neighbor Annie (Dianne Wiest) who takes care of Lucy when Sam cannot. Though Sam provides a loving and caring environment for precocious Lucy, she soon surpasses his mental ability. Other children tease her for having a "retard" as a father, and she becomes too embarrassed to accept that she is more intellectually advanced than Sam. In preparation for a custody case, a social worker turns up at Lucy's birthday party and takes her away, allowing Sam two supervised visits per week.

On the advice of his friends, Sam approaches a high-powered lawyer, Rita Harrison (Michelle Pfeiffer), whose brusque manner, fast-paced schedule and difficult personal life have earned her a reputation as cold and unfeeling. In an attempt to prove to others that she isn't heartless, Rita surprisingly agrees to take on Sam's case for free (pro bono). As they work together to secure Sam's parental rights, Sam unwittingly helps Rita with her family problems, including encouraging her to leave her philandering husband and repairing her fractious relationship with her son.

During the trial period, Lucy is ...

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