Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|About Schmidt / I Am Sam|
Actors: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer
Directors: Alexander Payne, Jessie Nelson
Genres: Comedy, Drama
A Pair of Excellent Character Studies
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 04/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Warren soon sponsors an African boy by the name of Ndugu. Through Warren's letters to Ndugu we learn what Warren is thinking; a rather clever way of letting Warren extensively espouse his feelings without hearing his thoughts directly. The only difficulty I had with the lengthy and complex monologues was that Warren would have known that Ndugu would not understand what Warren was ranting on about; a minor point and one that a viewer needs to overlook to stay up with the movie.
Warren no longer has an anchor to reality, and perhaps sanity. The house becomes a total disaster. Warren has no routine. To grab a lifeline, Warren decides that he needs to go visit his daughter. However, his daughter is not interested in having him come early for her wedding. Warren, already halfway to his daughter's house, decides to stay on the road, visiting old haunts. There are some poignant and funny points in this portion of the movie, along with the realization that, as we've all known, you can never go home.
Eventually Warren ends up at the house of the mother of his daughter's fianc?e, Roberta Hertzel, well-played by Kathy Bates. It's as though Warren has stepped into some version of hell that he only suspected existed. Roberta's front yard is filled with junk. Sirens sound at all times of the day and night. Warren has to sleep on a completely unbaffled waterbed, and gets a major crick in his neck, which his daughter then believes he planned to ruin her wedding. Of course, we have discovered during Warren's road trip that Warren wants to stop the wedding. The contrast between Kathy Hertzel and her family and Warren's life provides several funny moments and a severe reality check for Warren.
Because the best part of the movie is the end, for which you've had to patiently wait for about and hour and forty-five minutes, I'm going to stop providing details at this point. What I can tell you is that the entire movie hinges on the last few minutes of the movie, when meaning is restored to Warren's life through the tiniest of acts.
Character studies about ordinary people are often boring to those who have difficulty placing themselves into the character's position. This movie will likely appeal to guys in their 40s and older who consider their work the focus of their lives. Those who have empathy will readily understand Warren's position. This movie and "As Good as It Gets" prove that Jack Nicholson is an incredible actor, one of the greatest of our time.
This movie was nominated for two Academy Awards, and won another 17 awards and received another 28 nominations.
"I Am Sam"
Sean Penn does an outstanding job of portraying mentally challenged Sam Dawson. Sam has the intelligence of a 7-year-old, which means his 7-year-old daughter, adorable Dakota Fanning playing Lucy Diamond Dawson, is rapidly passing him in intellectual capacity. Events cause "The Authorities" to take Lucy away from Sam. Sam obtains a lawyer, Rita Harrison, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, to win his daughter back. Diane Wiest plays Annie, a concerned and intelligent neighbor with some bizarre mental problems of her own. Laura Dern plays Randy, a foster parent interested in adopting Lucy because she and her husband can give Lucy a better home and life than Sam.
Before I give you critical comments, understand that I liked this movie. I thought it was uplifting and positive. Sean Penn did an outstanding job.
Okay, my less than positive comments: I thought Michelle Pfeiffer did a wonderful job. However, in places she was a little over the top. I think that the director had a great actress and should have let her do her job, and not directed her the way he did, which led to places where she is unbelievable.
Laura Dern was a serious disappointment. Laura has a lot of ability (see "Mask" as an example), but here the majority of her acting is providing "looks" of disapproval or approval or whatever. Again, I credit the director with making less than maximum use of a very good actress.
One last negative comment: when Sam got dressed for court in a suit and then went to work at Starbucks, I knew immediately that he was going to get something all over the suit. Everybody watching the movie knew it too. The characters in the movie should have known it as well. Somehow the "intelligent" people around Sam couldn't foresee and prevent the suit from getting dirty. This event makes me wonder who the mentally challenged person in the movie was.
I am not sure what to say about the bobbling camera. There were places where the bobbling was used to try and give you a "real life" feel. In a few places it was distracting. Eventually I got used to it as I became involved with the characters and the story.
This movie was nominated for an Oscar, it won another 7 awards and received another 7 award nominations.
Conclusion: I would definitely watch the movie again, though not for a while. Not a "must buy" for me, though if you are into character stories, this movie could be a good one for your collection.