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I Am Sam (2001)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  25 January 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 117,016 users   Metascore: 28/100
Reviews: 431 user | 129 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

A mentally handicapped man fights for custody of his 7-year-old daughter, and in the process teaches his cold hearted lawyer the value of love and family.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Silverman ...
Brad (as Brad Allan Silverman)
Joseph Rosenberg ...
Judge Philip McNeily
Miss Wright
Mason Lucero ...
Conner Rhodes


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 <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


love is all you need



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 January 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Yo soy Sam  »

Box Office


$22,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$25,993 (USA) (4 January 2002)


£456,635 (UK) (24 May 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Favorite movie of French president Nicolas Sarkozy. 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 »


Sam: Lucy doesn't need me anymore. She has a new family now... and she doesn't need me anymore.
Rita: Is that what she said?
Sam: It's because I know that. Because I just know that.
Rita: Well. That's the first stupid thing I've ever heard you say.
See more »


Edited into Becoming Sam (2002) See more »


In a Swingin' Mood
Written by Curt Sobel and Gary Schreiner
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Effective Performance By Sean Penn
25 November 2002 | by (Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

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.


27 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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