According to its poster, Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres ‘really loved it’. That’s pretty smart marketing because I Am is likely to appeal to anyone without the intuition to get off the sofa but instead idly nod along to any earnest, nonthreatening bullshit illuminated on screen. I Am is one of the most irritating and saccharine documentaries I can remember. It’s a vanity project dressed up as the enlightenment, enlightening absolutely nothing apart from its director’s self satisfaction.
A while ago, Hollywood director Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor, Bruce Almighty etc) suffered a serious, life threatening head injury which made him realise there was more to life than making Jim Carey say silly things. In fact, there are two questions (apparently) no one ever asks: What is wrong with the world and what can we do about it? He then spends the entire movie picking out some mumbo-jumbo science and some incredibly selective talking heads to not answer these questions. I really hope the director feels extremely good about himself so that I Am serves its purpose. It’s like a teenager writing a paper to get into a second rate college by using some unsubstantiated claims, desperate to stand out from the crowd, loosely researched on Wikipedia but in the end saying absolutely nothing. “Capitalism makes us all competitive. We should love each other. When people come together good things can happen (and let’s leave out the stuff about how we let the Nazis comes to power as that was probably because Hitler just didn’t give out enough hugs).
The film makes a point out of science not being the path to truth, before selecting some absurd, left-field science to cast as ‘evidence’. It’s neo-hippy garbage and an utter waste of time. At one point Shadyac starts communicating with a yoghurt. But there must have been ten other people in the room who the yoghurt didn’t think were important enough to talk to. I’m so confused. Maybe he’s trolling us? But Oprah couldn’t have been trolled, she tells the truth.
Review by David Rank
Certificate 12A (UK). Running time 78 mins.
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