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"I AM SAM"
(2001) (Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Minor Moderate None Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate None Heavy Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A single, mentally challenged father tries to regain custody of his daughter when she finally surpasses him intellectually and is removed from their home by the courts.
PLOT:
Sam Dawson (SEAN PENN) is a mentally challenged man who works cleaning tables at the local Starbucks. He's also the single father to Lucy (DAKOTA FANNING), his precocious 7-year-old who has accepted that he's different from other dads.

With the limited help of Annie (DIANNE WIEST), his shut-in neighbor, and Ifty (DOUG HUTCHISON), Robert (STANLEY DESANTIS), Brad (BRAD ALLAN SILVERMAN) and Joe (JOSEPH ROSENBERG), his mentally challenged best friends, Sam has managed to raise Lucy to be an intelligent and well-adjusted young girl.

Yet, when she finally surpasses him intellectually, she begins to hold back in school, a point that eventually brings social worker Margaret Calgrove (LORETTA DEVINE) into the picture. She and others determine that Sam will be unable to raise Lucy properly in the coming years and thus remove her from his custody.

Desperate and prodded on by his friends to hire someone to defend his rights, Sam approaches Rita Harrison (MICHELLE PFEIFFER), a harried lawyer who knows he can't afford her and that she neither has time for him nor his case. Peer pressure, however, eventually makes her change her mind, and she reluctantly sets out to help him.

As she gets to know Sam and Lucy goes off to live with her foster mom, Randy (LAURA DERN), Rita then tries to do what she can - while taking on Mr. Turner (RICHARD SCHIFF), her opposition in the custody hearings - to prove that Sam's a good parent and is capable of continuing to raise Lucy.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of someone in the cast, are interested in films about mentally challenged people or are mentally challenged themselves, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • SEAN PENN plays a single, mentally challenged father who does a fine job of raising his daughter up until she's seven when she finally surpasses him on an intelligence level. After that, he must fight to regain custody of her when the courts remove her from his home.
  • DAKOTA FANNING plays his precocious, 7-year-old daughter who doesn't want to hurt her father's feelings by being smarter than him. She must then deal with being taken from him and put into a foster home.
  • DOUG HUTCHISON, STANLEY DESANTIS, BRAD ALLAN SILVERMAN and JOSEPH ROSENBERG play Sam's mentally challenged friends who are there for him when he needs help and/or emotional support.
  • DIANNE WIEST plays Sam's neighbor, a shut-in who partially helps him raise Lucy.
  • MICHELLE PFEIFFER plays a harried lawyer who agrees to help Sam with his case, initially due to guilt induced by her co-workers as well as her own strained relationship with her son. She uses profanity, one instance of which is strong.
  • RICHARD SCHIFF plays the opposing lawyer who comes off as the villain, but really wants to make sure that Lucy receives the best care and upbringing.
  • LAURA DERN plays Lucy's foster mom.
  • LORETTA DEVINE plays a social worker who questions Sam's ability to raise Lucy.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this drama that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 use of the "f" word, various other expletives and some colorful phrases. A non-explicit, sexually related comment is made, while tense family moments arise from a mentally challenged single father losing and then trying to regain custody of his young daughter. In addition, a harried lawyer doesn't have a fulfilling or happy relationship with her family.

    A few characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, and a handful of violent outbursts occur. Beyond that, however, the film's remaining categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content. Nevertheless, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Rita and others have champagne.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • A newborn baby has some bloody goo on her.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • A boy refers to Sam as a "retard."
  • Rita initially blows off Sam, stating she'll help him when she has no intention of doing so. She finally decides to help, not from truly wanting to, but because her colleagues don't think she does pro bono work.
  • While driving like a mad person through the streets, Rita gives "the finger" to someone she passes.
  • Turner comes off as having a bad attitude for the way he drills witnesses on the stand during the custody hearings.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • We see a knife and gun in a program playing on TV.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the hell /are you doing to that baby?" "Retard," "I've got stories up the wazoo," "Bone head," "Idiot," "Bitch," "Screwing up" and "Friggin."
  • While driving like a mad person through the streets, Rita gives "the finger" to someone she passes.
  • Lucy sneaks out of her foster home at night, walks down the street by herself, and then climbs up the latticework of a building to see her father.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word, 1 slang term for sex ("screwing"), 3 hells, 1 S.O.B., 6 uses of "G-damn," 5 of "Oh my God," 2 of "God" and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes" and "For God's sakes" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A woman shows some cleavage.
  • A woman, who turns out to be a hooker who shows cleavage, comes on to Sam in a restaurant. The police then arrest both of them (and he says that they touched him on his "private place" while frisking him), but charges against him are dropped since he didn't know what she was.
  • Rita breaks down and comments about her husband "screwing" people who are far more perfect than her.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Lucy's mother leaves her with Sam and doesn't return.
  • Sam becomes upset and confused when the authorities won't let him see Lucy except for a few hours at a time, as well as during the custody trials and then when the two are separated and Lucy is put into a foster home.
  • We hear that a woman's son overdosed sometime in the past.
  • Rita and her son have a strained relationship, and she's a single mom (since her husband moved out after apparently cheating on her).
  • Lucy tells Sam that she hates him for not showing up at her foster home.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Whether Sam should have been allowed to continue raising his daughter.
  • What constitutes a good parent.
  • People who are mentally challenged.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A boy's father pushes Sam down at a birthday party.
  • After bumping her leg on her coffee table, Rita kicks something in anger, sending it and its contents flying across the room.
  • A woman kicks a door open.



  • Reviewed December 7, 2001 / Posted January 25, 2002

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