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I am Sam

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Love is all you need.

I am Sam is the compelling story of Sam Dawson (Sean Penn), a mentally-challenged father raising his daughter Lucy (Dakota Fanning) 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 (Michelle Pfeiffer), a high-powered, self-absorbed attorney who initially takes his case pro bono 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 mirrors Rita's more socially acceptable obsessive-compulsive nature. Her manic need for perfection and success alienates her from her own son and has been slowly destroying her self-worth. 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.

Theatrical propaganda posters

I am Sam image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film drama father mentally challenged single parent Starbucks coffee

Persons of interest

  • Sean Penn .... Sam Dawson
  • Michelle Pfeiffer .... Rita Harrison
  • Dakota Fanning .... Lucy Diamond Dawson
  • Dianne Wiest .... Annie
  • Loretta Devine .... Margaret Calgrove
  • Richard Schiff .... Turner
  • Laura Dern .... Randy Carpenter
  • Brad Silverman .... Brad
  • Joseph Rosenberg .... Joe
  • Stanley DeSantis .... Robert
  • Doug Hutchison .... Ifty
  • Kristine Johnson .... Screenwriter
  • Jessie Nelson .... Screenwriter
  • Jessie Nelson .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

  • I am Sam official movie site
  • I am Sam QuickTime movie trailers
  • Awards and film festivals:
    • *
  • Studios and distributors:

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Rainman vs Rainman.

Sean Penn does a good line in spazzing, almost as good as Stoffer in The idiots. He keeps his character all the way through, even when you think he's going to lose it, and you wait for the flaw in the performance the same way that you hope it won't happen. Sam occasionally uses a big word, but once you realise that he's learnt it phonetically it doesn't grate so much as when you thought that it was bad writing.

Dakota Fanning is a little too old, even given the abnormally low maturity of her character's father, but she does everything extremely well. She has a long career as a child star. Blonde hair and blue eyes don't hurt any at all. Michelle Pfeiffer is just right as the far too busy working mother, with a great line in stress. You understand her neglect when it comes to messy interpersonal relationships because she just can't reduce them to a bunch of post-it notes.

When you mix these three people together with the governmental child welfare system you get a dramatic and dynamic story that will push and pull at your emotions through all the twists and turns of the script, right up to the Hollywood ending. And you know what I think of those.

Security censorship classification

M (Adult themes)

Surveillance time

124 minutes (2:04 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 13 June 2002
DVD rental: 15 January 2003
VHS rental: 15 January 2003

Cinema surveillance images

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