What’s wrong with the world? How can we fix it?
These are not easy questions to answer, but they are precisely the questions that the documentary film I AM poses. After a near fatal bicycle accident, director Tom Shadyac (who also directed Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty, and The Nutty Professor) contemplated how to spend the balance of a life he almost lost. From his recovery bed, he conceived of the project that would become I AM.
Unlike his previous works, this story is not told by comics, but rather, scholars, scientists, activists, poets, and professors. And it’s not a story, really. It’s more of a lesson or call to action. Featuring the late Howard Zinn (whom Shadyac called “[one of Boston’s] dearest hearts” while addressing moviegoers at the Kendall Square Cinema last Friday night) as well as Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, poet Coleman Barks, and others, its message inhabits an intriguing cross-section of philosophy, quantum physics, biology, sociology, and spirituality.
Better known for making Jim Carey talk from his butt, Shadyac is now focused on starting conversations about how we can mend what ails society. (The list of our ills is long, but things like economic greed, environmental destruction, and widespread war come to mind first). Even with a serious subject matter, Shadyac maintains his wicked sense of humor, yet uses it sparingly. His lifestyle, too, is more understated in a conscious effort to align his “moral and economic life.” He makes his home in a trailer park, for example (a far cry from his earlier days of multiple mansions in Hollywood). He also teaches at Pepperdine University and travels the country to share I AM with audiences.
The film is fantastic, and I recommend being in its audience soon if you can. I had the good fortune not only to see the movie but to hear Tom Shadyac speak in person. I even caught a little on film for you. Enjoy!