User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 102 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 78 out of 102
  2. Negative: 10 out of 102
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  1. SaraiV.
    Oct 13, 2006
    10
    This is the best movie ever!
  2. Feb 27, 2013
    10
    Why don't the critics like this? It was so realistic and wonderful. The critics are being bad at their job. >:l Yes watchers, pretty much all love this. This is EPICCCC
  3. Nov 10, 2010
    9
    A metascore of 28, must be a joke. i never thought my opinion would be so contrary to the critics. it was a beautiful movie and great casting. It is true what Chicago Sun-times wrote that every device of the movie is designed is to convince us Lucy must stay with Sam even though common sense makes it impossible to go the distance with the premise, but this doesn't make it a bad movie. IA metascore of 28, must be a joke. i never thought my opinion would be so contrary to the critics. it was a beautiful movie and great casting. It is true what Chicago Sun-times wrote that every device of the movie is designed is to convince us Lucy must stay with Sam even though common sense makes it impossible to go the distance with the premise, but this doesn't make it a bad movie. I would recommend it to anybody who looks for a touching movie, which also makes you laugh sometimes. Collapse
  4. Jul 4, 2011
    10
    I truly loved it. what a great performance from penn as well as fanning's. A beautiful and lovely story with a great sense on values and the meaning of perseverance. Highly recommended. Metascore 28 doesn't give it credit
  5. Skip
    Aug 5, 2002
    10
    I had never heard of this movie when I first saw it on Pay Per View. I assume because of most of the completely lame negative reviews. Anyone giving this movie a 0 should be fired from his job, no excuses. This is one of the most touching movies I've ever seen. I've never wanted to immediately run out and buy a movie on DVD until now. This is THE breakthrough performance of I had never heard of this movie when I first saw it on Pay Per View. I assume because of most of the completely lame negative reviews. Anyone giving this movie a 0 should be fired from his job, no excuses. This is one of the most touching movies I've ever seen. I've never wanted to immediately run out and buy a movie on DVD until now. This is THE breakthrough performance of Shawn Penn's acting career. I've always wanted to like Penn but never could bring myself to like his acting until now. Wow! I laughed as the Titanic sunk and wanted to push Leonardo off the raft early, I truly felt for Sam and forgot often that I was even watching Penn. Absolute stunning performance. Expand
  6. ToddF.
    Jun 21, 2002
    9
    Man, some people really took strong exception to this movie. Let's all take a time out. For me I laughed and cried for two hours straight. I loved it. Of course Penn was good, but so was the girl who played his daughter. Also, this was again a great social film for the advancement of the Developmentally Disabled cause (awareness). And the actors, some of which are DD, were hilarious. Man, some people really took strong exception to this movie. Let's all take a time out. For me I laughed and cried for two hours straight. I loved it. Of course Penn was good, but so was the girl who played his daughter. Also, this was again a great social film for the advancement of the Developmentally Disabled cause (awareness). And the actors, some of which are DD, were hilarious. Yes the villians and plot outcomes in the movie are somewhat predictible. But I think its detractors just need a good swing in the park. This movie moved me more than any since Field of Dreams. I will see it again. Expand
  7. TonyK.
    Aug 20, 2002
    9
    This film is why I am not paying much attention to Metascores anymore. A Metascore of 23 just goes to show how too many hours sitting in film appreciation classes in university analyzing every minute detail of a film obliterates what the rest of the movie-going public has in common. That is a sense of a good story and empathy with characters. I was impressed with Laura Dern. She played a This film is why I am not paying much attention to Metascores anymore. A Metascore of 23 just goes to show how too many hours sitting in film appreciation classes in university analyzing every minute detail of a film obliterates what the rest of the movie-going public has in common. That is a sense of a good story and empathy with characters. I was impressed with Laura Dern. She played a truly caring mom 100% attached to this little girl that did not want her. I would definitely watch this movie again. I would just try not to cry so much! Expand
  8. Comrade
    Apr 8, 2004
    9
    You sick people who didn't like this movie...unbelievable. it made me cry and everyone i know loved it.
  9. Cooleycoolbum
    Jul 2, 2004
    10
    I love this movie!!! this and 'Once Were Warriors' are the saddest, best and most tearry movies ever!!! if you want a good cry and a full heart, see this! masterpiece!
  10. DannyC.
    Jun 22, 2002
    10
    This is definitely my favorite movie of all time. Incredible acting by Penn and Pfeiffer together. Cried during the whole movie! Great picture.
  11. SteveD.
    Sep 18, 2002
    10
    I loved this movie i think it is one the best ever made. Sean penn should have won many awards for this movie i have seen this movie three times it just breaks my heart. I just start bawling from the strart to the very end of the movie every time i see it.
  12. Sarah
    Apr 12, 2004
    9
    I'm surprised this movie got such low ratings! I thought it was amazing. i cried, laughed and cried some more. I wish more movies were as touching as this one was.
  13. IanK.
    Jan 8, 2005
    9
    Are the friggin' critics serious? From Simon Birch to I Am Sam...they are passing these movies along like there bad! This and Simon Birch are two of the greatest movies i've ever seen! And yet you give snoozers like About Schmidt good reviews!
  14. ShannonC.
    Mar 12, 2002
    9
    VERY good movie. Would go see it 10 more times. Brought me to tears, it even moved my husband.
  15. TeresaR.
    Jun 23, 2002
    10
    Sean Penn is brillant!! He deserves an award for his performance!
  16. SheydaM.A.
    Jul 18, 2002
    10
    This is such an amazing film i cant believ everyone who saw it id not cry these days all films are about is sex and hard hitting action , penn is just too good actually everyone is just to good.
  17. BenM.
    Aug 4, 2002
    10
    This wasn't that bad at all! Maybe not the best movie in the world, but there are many many more worse movies.
  18. Char
    Aug 4, 2002
    10
    For one, i am sam actively avoids all the sentimentality these professional reviews complain about. rather than focusing on drivel, it puts us into sam's perspective using subjective POV filmmaking. this is why the film is highly stylistic in its directorial and editorial choices -- another intentional device that the "professional critics" complain about. when sam's world isFor one, i am sam actively avoids all the sentimentality these professional reviews complain about. rather than focusing on drivel, it puts us into sam's perspective using subjective POV filmmaking. this is why the film is highly stylistic in its directorial and editorial choices -- another intentional device that the "professional critics" complain about. when sam's world is spinning, the camera spins. when sam's world is moving so fast that he cannot keep up, the picture cuts so quickly that we can barely keep up. it's brilliant -- honest -- fair -- moving -- and quite clearly rockets beyond antiques like rainman and forest gump into a new, poetic realm of synchronous emotional intensity and truth. it doesn't pander to the politically correct. it doesn't try to pull at your heartstrings at all. it's telling a story, quite deftly, and this in itself should and will draw you in. Expand
  19. LisaC.
    Jul 11, 2003
    9
    I saw the trailer for this movie and it sparked an intrest to go and see this film. Watching it made me cry , sympathise and laugh with the character. This a touching drama guaranteed to touch the heart. With a great script and great performances from all the actors and actresses invloved.
  20. JulsP.
    Aug 7, 2004
    10
    Very marvelous movie!!!!!! those who rated this film below 1 are like stones!!!!!!
  21. Lear'sFool
    Nov 26, 2002
    10
    I would have rated this a 20 but the rating only goes out to 10. I really liked this movie. I think this is the most effective and most powerful movie I've ever seen. Forget about its similarity to kramer vs kramer, its emotional chick flick quality or their ripping off of beatles songs. Critics who give this movie a bad rating just because of these factors are nothing but morons I would have rated this a 20 but the rating only goes out to 10. I really liked this movie. I think this is the most effective and most powerful movie I've ever seen. Forget about its similarity to kramer vs kramer, its emotional chick flick quality or their ripping off of beatles songs. Critics who give this movie a bad rating just because of these factors are nothing but morons with an IQ of a rock. Rate this movie according to its dues not because its a rip off of starbucks etc. etc. All movies borrow their elements from other movies. All movies exaggerate things. It's natural. But not all movies can patch up borrowed elements to create something very powerful. Not all over exagerated movies are effective. I would go on but I don't know the limit for this so I'll keep it short. I am sam is an effective movie because it is an accurate depiction of human nature based on psychological and humanistic point of view. Unlike other movies it is also interesting to note that it takes the watcher in a roller coaster ride where each arc is as powerful as the next- unlike other movies. Free your mind from biases. Watch the movie and you'll see what I mean. Expand
  22. IanW.
    Feb 11, 2002
    10
    Awesome, best acting I've seen in a long time.
  23. BillH.
    Aug 18, 2005
    10
    This is the best movie that I have ever seen, it made you sad,it made you happy, and filled you with unbelievable joy at the same time.
  24. JimmyCritic
    Dec 11, 2003
    10
    Metascore : 28 // how can that be possible? this movie is one of the best movies ever. they must've use a shovel to dig the dirt out of this movie [althought none will be visible to the naked eye]. i recommend this movie to all movie lovers. GO WATCH IT!
  25. Jul 8, 2014
    10
    Truly an amazing Masterpiece, a very deep yet touching movie, i don't always watch a Drama, but this one is Different, i highly recommend it ( it's a must ! )
  26. Dec 14, 2014
    9
    I don't understand why this movie received such terrible reviews from the critics, because it is one of the best film I have seen ever. Period. A film involving a true ethical dilemma. It hard not to get emotionally involved with the film. Sean Penn is amazing in the lead role, which if it had have been released a different it likely would have won him an Oscar (Penn lost the 2002 toI don't understand why this movie received such terrible reviews from the critics, because it is one of the best film I have seen ever. Period. A film involving a true ethical dilemma. It hard not to get emotionally involved with the film. Sean Penn is amazing in the lead role, which if it had have been released a different it likely would have won him an Oscar (Penn lost the 2002 to Denzel Washington for his role in Training Day, which is hard to object). Michelle Pfeiffer was also great in her role as she develops more and more throughout the film. Sam is a character that is as lovable as any character could ever be. His meetings with his friends are great scenes to watch, they are very cute. Expand
Metascore
28

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 33
  2. Negative: 19 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    40
    As the director of this noble weepie, Nelson so overuses visual tricks -- zooms, zip pans and multiple perspectives on a simple scene -- that she turns the viewer into an exasperated parent; this is a directorial style in need of a spanking.
  2. 40
    By-the-numbers Oscar bait -- but Penn does manage, against such odds, to make us see Sam as a person, not a performance.
  3. 30
    Contrived, manipulative and shamelessly sentimental, this film is notable for the courageous reach of Sean Penn, who gives a bold, heartfelt performance.