I Am (2010)

I_Am_documentary_2011_PosterAlthough there is something to be said about Tom Shadyac’s earnest conviction, he’s no better a director when he’s making documentaries than he is making lowbrow comedy films. The pretentiously titled “I Am” is little more than a hopeless vanity film masquerading as activism, and the main problem is that it dabbles in dubious social and scientific ideas without going the extra mile to prove them logically. I actually researched and contemplated the film’s ideas, and found them to be utter nonsense. After all, if all it took to fix the world was for us to love each other unconditionally, then why is the world still troubled despite the innate capability of unconditional love in human beings?

Humans are not without love, and yet there is still violence, greed, and ignorance plaguing mankind. I wonder if the director has an answer for that beyond the jaded hippie slogans that I’ve come to expect from a clearly privileged Hollywood director. The film also goes out of its way to demonize competition and self-interest, even though competition and self-interest are just as natural and integral to human existence as love and co-operation. In fact, the film’s director spent so much time preaching about love and co-operation that he forgot about the fact that competition and self-interest have always been the driving forces of human progress. If someone didn’t decide they wanted something better than what we already have, then modern society, along with everything we take for granted, would simply not exist. If that wasn’t a bitter enough pill to swallow, the film goes through contortions to preach that we as humans are actually an interconnected whole, using dubious science and questionable logic to reinforce what is ultimately a tired, unproven dogma that is typical of so many progressive Hollywood morons.

To be fair, the film does ask some fine questions that are worthy of consideration and perhaps debate, but why on Earth should I trust them with the director of “Bruce Almighty” and “The Nutty Professor”? Furthermore, however honest the director is trying to be, how can I trust someone who clearly went for the rosiest sounding conclusion, and didn’t bother researching his ideas properly? Worse still, he failed to provide a rational counterargument, choosing instead to appropriate any quote, interview, or slick film-making technique to validate his argument. Consequently, what we’re left with is a sentimental assemblage of stock footage and weapons-grade hogwash, and in general Tom Shadyac ends up sounding more like Robert Tilton on Ritalin, and I say that because the clearly proselytizing agenda of the film is no different to that of the right-wing evangelical Christians.

That in itself is something I find ironic because the film goes on and on about the evils of a consumerist society in such a stereotypically heavy-handed left-wing manner, but it ultimately wallows in the same narrative that created the kind of world that, supposedly, is the problem to begin with. It’s too bad that Mr. Shadyac doesn’t realize that the world is far more complex and sophisticated than such buzzwords as “love” and “greed”. Had he researched his ideas properly and looked for both sides of his central argument, this could have been a genuinely thought-provoking examination of the human condition, perhaps with the potential to spark real debate. Instead, we have a barely intelligent, ham-fisted sermon orated by someone who ultimately comes across as yet another progressive demagogue.

  • Score: 35%
  • Grade: E
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