Sam Dawson has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old. He works at a Starbucks and is obsessed with the Beatles. He has a daughter with a homeless woman; she abandons them as soon as they leave the hospital. He names his daughter Lucy Diamond (after the Beatles song), and raises her. But as she reaches age 7 herself, Sam's limitations start to become a problem at school; she's intentionally holding back to avoid looking smarter than him. The authorities take her away, and Sam shames high-priced lawyer Rita Harrison into taking his case pro bono. In the process, he teaches her a great deal about love, and whether it's really all you need. Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Many lines or actions by Sean Penn's character, Sam, were improvised, such as the end of the scene at the new restaurant where Sam shouts, "Ask Big Bob!" or the dog scene. The producers liked many of these improvised scenes much better than the original book. See more »
In the first courtroom scene, the judge asks to see Sam back in court on January 5th, supposedly a month after that day. However, the board of cases for the day says the date is August 20th. See more »
Now, Ms. Cossell, in all the time that you've known them, have you ever questioned Sam's ability as a father?
Never. Look at Lucy. She's strong. She displays true empathy for people, all kinds of people. I know that you all think she's as smart as she is despite him, but it's because of him.
So what you're saying is you don't worry about Lucy's future?
No, I do.
I worry all the time. I worry if they take Lucy away from her father they will take away an enormous piece of her,...
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I have to confess off the top that I am not and never have been a particular fan of Sean Penn. I have no specific criticism to make of him; as an actor he simply doesn't appeal to me. Because of that bias I approached this movie with low expectations. The story of a mentally handicapped man fighting for custody of his seven year old daughter sounded intriguing, but it starred Penn. But what a pleasant surprise this movie turned out to be!
Penn is actually very good in this role. He brings a realism to the character of Sam Dawson, and portrays him sensitively and with real emotion. In fact, I thought the only performance that was better than Penn's came not from Michelle Pfeiffer (who disappointed me a bit, actually) but rather from little Dakota Fanning as Sam's daughter Lucy. She seemed so natural in this role, and I would hope that we see more of her in the years to come. Pfeiffer, on the other hand, (as Sam's lawyer Rita Harrison) just didn't carry the role off that well, and even the courtroom scenes to me lacked the tension one would have expected from such an emotionally-laden issue.
The movie weakens in the last little bit, going for the sappy (and highly unrealistic) ending - unrealistic particularly in the way Lucy's foster mother (Laura Dern) ends up handling the situation.
Having said that, I still enjoyed this movie very much. It's raised my assessment of Sean Penn's acting abilities and I would recommend it to others and would watch it again.
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