April 5, 2002 – Picture Sean Penn as a mentally challenged Beatles fan with a 7-year-old daughter he is raising alone on his earnings as a Starbucks busboy, and you've got the goods on "I am Sam."
From the view of an older and possibly somewhat mentally challenged Beatles fan, this looks like the stuff that schmaltz is made of. However, not so fast. The critics say Penn is "restrained and top notch," handling the difficult role with ease. Dakota Fanning as his daughter, Lucy ("in the sky with diamonds?"), about steals the show out from under him, though, the critics also say.
As Lucy nears her eighth birthday, it becomes obvious that shortly her intelligence will top her father's, and child services workers determine she should be put into foster care. Sam doesn't think so, and begins to fight the system. Roger Ebert says the movie wants to wed "Rain Man" to "Kramer vs. Kramer."
Sam's situation attracts the attention of high-powered attorney Rita Harrison (Michelle Pfieffer), who takes his case pro bono. Yahoo Movies says the two battle together to win Lucy back and "fuse a bond that results in a unique testament to the power of unconditional love." Oh, well, a little schmaltz never hurt anybody, especially backed by a chockfull Beatles soundtrack. Be prepared, though — it's 2 hours and 12 minutes long.
Directed by Jessie Nelson, "I Am Sam" is rated PG-13 for language.
It is playing at Market Square East.
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