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Parents' Guide to

I Am Sam

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Moving but unrealistic film has mature themes, profanity.

Movie PG-13 2002 132 minutes
I Am Sam Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 12+

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
age 6+

I think this is a necessary and appropriate Movie!

I think that this is a great movie. I just watched it again but with my 12-year-old for the first time. It’s a 2001 movie but right now it’s 2019 about to 2020 in a couple of weeks. I’m truly surprised that a couple of parents left reviews that they thought there’s too much bad language especially those with teenagers. This is reality right now people use bad language every day, that is realistic. This movie does not use too much swearing just a couple of F words. I find it unrealistic that a reviewer said too much bad words for their 11 and 15-year-old. Seriously? The topics in this movie are real. Another reviewer said the topics and a couple of scenes might be too harsh for small children. This movie does a great job in portraying what it’s like for a person who is developmentally delayed and I think it would be a great injustice to want to shield children away from this. Talking about it or warning your children that there are others who are different does not exactly prepare them. Depending on the type of parent you are and what kind of children you are trying to raise, this movie does a great job NOT sugarcoating what it’s really like. I’m raising my daughter to be a kind, loving, understanding and open person to every human being. She loved this raw movie. This is what the world needs right now. Sean Penn And Dakota Fanning did an amazing job!

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6 ):
Kids say (13 ):

If only the filmmakers had trusted the material and the audience a little more, then I Am Sam wouldn't feel so manipulative and dishonest. But by making anyone who thinks that maybe a child needs more than a mentally challenged parent can provide look like a monster, they turn the characters into cardboard. The glowing last scene, with Sam performing in a role that's clearly beyond what he has been shown to be capable of, is just phony.

But Penn gives a first-rate performance, and Pfeiffer holds her own. In smaller parts, Wiest, Richard Schiff, Mary Steenburgen, and Laura Dern all are very fine as well, and the soundtrack of Beatles songs recorded by some of today's best artists is a genuine treat. The real miracle of the movie, though, is young Fanning, who gives a performance of such sincerity, subtlety, and delicacy that she almost carries the entire movie herself.

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