Besides Sean Pennís performance, I am Sam has no grounding in reality.Itís the story of Sam (Penn), a single parent with the mental ability of a seven year old, raising a daughter (Dakota Fanning) who surpasses him intellectually. Fanning and Penn make a sweet father-daughter and the issue is a live one. But the screenplay (by Kristine Johnson and director Jessie Nelson) is plain dumb. Samís choice is reduced to bringing up the kid on his own with next to no support or having her taken to a foster home and never seeing her again.
Michelle Pfeiffer tries hard with a poorly and under-written character. Sheís a tough bitch family lawyer who learns about lifeís simple pleasures from Samís patience. Some wonderful actors fill out the supporting roles Ė Dianne Wiest, Laura Dern, Mary Steenburgen, Doug Hutchison. And Elliot Davisí bright cinematography at least saves I am Sam from looking too much like a telemovie.
But this film is way too long. The twists and turns in the legal hearing get increasingly ludicrous. Thereís no feeling of authenticity so itís hard to take what happens to any of these characters seriously - in spite of Nelson ultimately slopping on the sentiment with a trowel.Filling the soundtrack with Beatles covers, on the pretext that Sam is a Beatles fan, is a feeble gimmick. It also frequently makes I am Sam as dull to listen to as it is to watch.