It must be hard to win an Oscar for a memorable performance. If you’ve heard of the term “Oscar Bait,” it means something like a serious drama attempting to replicate a struggle including family dilemmas, drug addiction, abandonment, diseases, etc. One film in particular attempted to nab an easy win as an excuse to hire that ex-boyfriend of Madonna who went on to become a critically acclaimed actor, desperate to earn his merit badge, but didn’t, the film I’m referring to is “I Am Sam.”
I Am Sam was released in 2001. (same year Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone came out) The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics and it made enough green at the box office. By the way, this is Dakota Fanning’s (War Of The Worlds, Man On Fire, Coraline) big screen debut, prior to becoming a has-been.
It’s one of those movies that tries to easily earn an Academy Award, (this is not a joke guys & gals) but this movie only had one nomination for Best Actor. Let’s see why it has a mixed reputation from both movie goers & critics.
This review contains big SPOILERS if you haven’t seen this movie, go ahead and watch it, if not, read at your own risk!
Yay: The music in the soundtrack are songs by The Beatles which is Sam’s favorite band. The producers of the film managed to bring their own awesome mix for this picture.
The Cast of the film including Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laura Dern, & Dakota Fanning, all did a decent job for their respective performances.
Sam reads Green Eggs & Ham to Lucy. Two Years Later, Dakota went on to star that god awful live action adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat.
I’ll give this film Bonus Points for a scene with Sam & his lawyer Rita, watching Johnny Bravo (I grew up watching Cartoon Network shows during the network’s prime) in the waiting room. Those were the good ol’ days.
If you’re a huge fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Brent Spiner, (Data) makes a cameo appearance as a shoe salesperson.
My Favorite Line in the film is, “HI THIS IS SAM!”
Nay: The cinematography is very bad, there’s shaky cam throughout the film. Nobody batted an eye on the cameraman’s shakiness after consuming a bunch of Red Bull cans.
Poor editing. It’s as if The Editor has never been taking Post-Production classes or taught himself the craft of editing.
Lots of Product Placement as I call it, P.P. for short as an acronym.
The blue hue screen featuring scenes such as the court, felt out of place, it’s as if they turned this into a neo-noir psychological thriller like Minority Report. In the trailer, none of the blue in the scenes weren’t shown. Is Zack Snyder responsible for coming up with the blue filter? If so, I demand answers right now!
The ending didn’t show Sam winning the custody battle in court. It just shows the foster mother giving the daughter back to him. Storytelling 101, if the reader/viewer is witnessing a major plot point for the first time, show the scene, rather than telling. Ever heard of the phrase, “Show Don’t Tell.” Imagine if The Battle Of Yavin in Star Wars: A New Hope, was only mentioned that Luke Skywalker blew it up, rather than showing the whole thing on how he managed to dodge obstacles in his way?
The title of the film is kinda misleading, it should’ve been called “You Can Call Me Sam.” Which is a quote in the movie.
According to Roger Ebert, he pointed out that it’s difficult to depict who to root for, plus there is no bad guy in this conflict. So there’s the problem, The film lacked a compelling villain to go head to head on the protagonist.
Final Verdict: D-
After watching the movie, scene by scene, the characters, dramatic moments etc. This is a personification of trying to manipulate viewers & critics to make this movie earn a truckload of critical acclaim, but it fail to take home the prize. Sean Penn got nominated but at the end, he didn’t, until later on, he became a two time Academy Award winner for his performances in Mystic River & Milk.
This trend involving Oscar Bait related films, is gonna keep going on and on. In the meantime Hollywood, try not to make another type of movie to get people’s butts in theaters, make something more exciting, inspiring & hopeful with a teaspoon of making your audience relate to the characters caught in extraordinary circumstances.
Ben Stiller did a jab on the trend in Tropic Thunder, by making fun of Oscar Bait films. Thank you Ben for making a point on why your character in Tropic Thunder, on why he’s totally desperate to earn a massive boost to his career.
I’m also mortified that Daniel Radcliffe never earned an Oscar Nomination for Best Actor on his performance as Harry Potter. Thanks a lot Sam I Am for robbing Daniel’s golden opportunity to see if he would’ve become one of the youngest actors nominated for an Oscar!