I Am Sam

2001 PG-13 2h 14m DVD

I Am Sam

2001 PG-13 2h 14m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
After fathering a child with a homeless woman, Sam (Sean Penn) -- a grown man with the mental capacity of a 7-year-old -- raises the baby himself until an incident at a birthday party finds the Child Protective Services deeming him an unfit guardian. With the help of yuppie lawyer Michelle Pfeiffer, Sam attempts to regain custody of his daughter and prove that, despite his handicap, he's a truly loving father.
Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dakota Fanning, Dianne Wiest, Loretta Devine, Laura Dern, Richard Schiff, Doug Hutchison, Stanley DeSantis, Brad Silverman, Will Wallace, Mary Steenburgen, Scott Paulin, Kathleen Robertson, Eileen Ryan, Wendy Phillips, Elle Fanning
Jessie Nelson
Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
PG-13 - Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.
age 14+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 14+
age 14+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that I Am Sam portrays a mentally challenged man and his impassioned efforts to parent and retain custody of his precocious young daughter. There are several heartwrenching scenes during which Sam and Lucy are forcibly taken from one another. Other characters (two of whom are actually developmentally disabled) give insightful performances that may enlighten older kids and teens about people with special needs. A female character swears occasionally: one use of "f--k," along with numerous instances of "goddammit," "hell," and other mild epithets. Starbucks is prominently featured as Sam's workplace, and many other products and retailers are identified.

Sexual Content

Mild references to out-of-wedlock pregnancy, adultery.


Tense family situations.


Sam, the film's hero, is referred to as "retarded" in some scenes. One leading female character swears several times: "goddammit," "hell," "for Christ's sake," "son of a bitch," "up the wazoo," "screw." There is one use of "f--k."

Social Behavior

Provides a very sympathetic look at the developmentally disabled community and shows elements of both their limitations and strengths. Promotes love, commitment, and good intentions as primary values in parenting and at the same time affirms that "it takes a village to raise a child."


Starbucks is a featured location in numerous sequences. Other products and retailers clearly identified include Equal sweetener, Huggies, Payless, Baskin-Robbins, Tab, Pizza Hut, Bob's Big Boy, and IHOP.

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Not applicable

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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