A single, retarded father has his day in court, fighting for custody of his devoted 9-year-old daughter.

(Now in stores)

CAST: Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dakota Fanning, Dianne Wiest, Doug Hutchison, Loretta Devine, Laura Dern, Richard Schiff

DIRECTOR: Jessie Nelson

"... a shamelessly uplifting melodrama about a mentally challenged man fighting for custody of his young daughter...'I Am Sam' is not a bad movie, and its intentions are unimpeachable. But its sentimentality is so relentless and its narrative so predictable that the life is very nearly squeezed out of it...Mr. Penn, with his usual discipline, burrows deep into Sam and fights the movie's attempts to use the character for its own manipulative ends... you need only look into the actor's eyes to see how deeply he is committed to perceiving the world the way Sam does." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"Sean Penn does as well as can be expected with Sam, but it is painful to see an actor of his fire and range locked into a narrow range of emotional and intellectual responses... Every device of the movie's art is designed to convince us Lucy must stay with Sam, but common sense makes it impossible to go the distance with the premise. You can't have heroes and villains when the wrong side is making the best sense." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Penn has completely transformed his speech patterns, his walk, his body language; there's no single moment when you catch him out and mutter to yourself, 'That's Sean Penn.' It's a prodigious feat of acting that's also highly limited: Penn's very authenticity in the role guarantees a constricted emotional range...This is one of Pfeiffer's rare terrible performances, perhaps because she can't make any more sense of her role than we can... When he directed 'The Pledge,' Penn demonstrated a highly textured and despairing awareness of life's crazy-making complexities. He's a film artist renowned for the integrity of his career choices. Why, at this point, would he bother to act in the kind of mush-minded movie I'd hope he would never direct?" --Peter Rainer, New York

"'I Am Sam,' a well-intentioned but ludicrous tale of a mentally retarded single dad, wears its heart not only on its sleeve but on its shirt, pants and overcoat as well...Penn, his gestures ungainly and his head cocked to one side, masters the body language of the mentally handicapped and adequately conveys the Gumpian Sam's growing anguish and frustration. At the same time, the performance--showy and contrived--is all too obviously meant to get Oscar's attention...Dern brings plenty of energy to her supporting role, unlike Pfeiffer, who acts as if she has awakened from a bad dream only to find that it was real. And that this will go on her rE`sumE`." --Rita Kempley, The Washington Post

"Contrived, manipulative and shamelessly sentimental, this film is notable for the courageous reach of Sean Penn, who gives a bold, heartfelt performance...when the court intervenes and Sam persuades a workaholic lawyer, Rita Harrison (Michelle Pfeiffer), to help him keep Lucy, director and co-writer Jessie Nelson (Corrina, Corrina) sends the movie hurtling off the cliff into soap opera. Only Penn stays the course, turning what could have been an actor's stunt into a portrayal of stirring emotion and blunt truth." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone