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>
As preparation for his role, Sean Penn visited L.A. Goal, a center in Los Angeles for Mentally Handicapped persons. 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 »
I just don't know what to call you: retarded, mentally retarded, mentally handicapped, mentally disabled, intellectually handicapped, intellectually disabled, developementally disabled...
You can call me Sam.
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I haven't been a fan of Sean Penn's since Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Since that time, nearly all his films have left me flat. In fact, I nearly didn't watch this film since he was in it. What a loss it would have been if I'd missed it! I won't go into the story line since that's been reviewed a lot by others. The story is sort of a cliché'd one and has been done before, though not as well. The story isn't this film's strength anyway - it's the acting. Rarely have I seen a film with this much powerful acting. Penn's performance as Sam is brilliant! He must have studied autistic/mentally challenged people to pull this performance off. I also want to mention how good Michele Pfeiffer was in this. Her character starts out as a hard-hearted witch and ends up being very human, thanks to her exposure to Sam. The change in her is gradual, subtle and fun to watch. Sams friends, very well played by Brad Silverman, Joseph Rosenberg, Stanley DeSantis and Doug Hutchinson are very important support characters. Laura Dern gives a stellar performance as Randy. Dakota Fanning as Lucy very nearly steals the show. This little actress has quite a career ahead of her, I hope! This film is delicately balanced, and has a good bit of humor interspersed with parts that will have even the most insensitive of you reaching for a tissue. The film has a sort of a sappy (and somewhat surprising) outcome, but by this time any other ending would have been pretty much unacceptable to most people. This movie blew me away and I gave it a 9.
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