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Trailer for Tom Shadyac’s I AM spoils the meaning of life

GATW Guest Writer

by: GATW Guest Writer
December 16th, 2010

The first trailer for the new project from Tom Shadyac has premiered, and... it's probably not what you're expecting.  Tom Shadyac is perhaps best known as the director of broad comedies like ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE and BRUCE ALMIGHTY, but his new film looks to be a bit more serious.

A documentary entitled I AM, the film follows Shadyac as he asks some of the world's top scholars, philosophers, and religious leaders challenging questions like "What's wrong with the world?" and "How can we fix it?" In other words, the same questions already asked a million times by practically every single person on the planet since the beginning of time. Check out the trailer after the break.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeqB8JwpdE4[/youtube]

Call me cynical, but while the premise sounds interesting in theory, this trailer doesn't grab my attention at all. Not only does it explain why Shadyac undertook such a project (he had a near-death experience), but it also appears to spoil what the overall theme of the film will be: that we're all connected, we all have an individual responsibility to improve life for everyone, etc. Thanks, Tom Shadyac! I missed all those after school specials when I was in elementary school, so this is huge news to me!

Sarcasm aside, I do think an idea like this has potential. There's a lot of bad stuff that happens in the world, and a lot of different answers one could give as to why, and I'm sure some of those answers could (and have) inspired full-length documentaries in their own right. But this just seems like an inspirational fluff piece designed to make people feel good as opposed to finding real and practical answers. Who knows, maybe the actual film is less focused on vague ideas ("We're all connected in some strange metaphysical sense!  Yay!") and will actually contain some useful information and answers. What do you think?

Source /Film

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  • Miguel

    I think you are partially right but fundamentally wrong. These questions have been asked before. The problem is that the wrong people have been doing the answering and they have been answering the wrong questions. “How do you end violence? How do we feed the hungry? How do we end poverty?”
    They seem like good questions but at a fundamental level they are flawed in that the questions presuppose that the subject of the question is a root problem. What possible answer to “How do you end violence?” would solve the problem forever? Better communication, stiffer punishment….what? Perhaps our job isn’t to fix these symptoms but to live our life in such a way as to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”, realizing that when everyone really opens their eyes to the connections between us that those problems won’t seem so insurmountable and indeed, could just solve themselves.
    I am not nieve. I don’t think that problems will magically disappear. But when everyone is so focussed on their own daily drama, who has time for contributing to solving the world’s issues. It is only when we can realize that most of our own problems are only problems within the context of our perspective, that we can put them down and “fix the world”. I don’t like that term because what I mean is that a culture of cooperation and synergy can develop naturally. This will only happen when we realize that the answer to “How do you end violence?” just might be to “Teach everyone that doing violence to others harms you, because that person is a part of you.” and that “power over others is weakness disguised as strength.

    or something like that.

  • Miguel

    I think you are partially right but fundamentally wrong. These questions have been asked before. The problem is that the wrong people have been doing the answering and they have been answering the wrong questions. “How do you end violence? How do we feed the hungry? How do we end poverty?”
    They seem like good questions but at a fundamental level they are flawed in that the questions presuppose that the subject of the question is a root problem. What possible answer to “How do you end violence?” would solve the problem forever? Better communication, stiffer punishment….what? Perhaps our job isn’t to fix these symptoms but to live our life in such a way as to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”, realizing that when everyone really opens their eyes to the connections between us that those problems won’t seem so insurmountable and indeed, could just solve themselves.
    I am not nieve. I don’t think that problems will magically disappear. But when everyone is so focussed on their own daily drama, who has time for contributing to solving the world’s issues. It is only when we can realize that most of our own problems are only problems within the context of our perspective, that we can put them down and “fix the world”. I don’t like that term because what I mean is that a culture of cooperation and synergy can develop naturally. This will only happen when we realize that the answer to “How do you end violence?” just might be to “Teach everyone that doing violence to others harms you, because that person is a part of you.” and that “power over others is weakness disguised as strength.

    or something like that.

  • NKS

    Saw this documentary as part of a screening at USC last night and was not impressed at all. It was actually pretty sad to see how many students were won over just because Shadyac is a charismatic person. The film itself, and I feel bad saying this considering how many interesting and innovative people were part of it, lacked any real ability to overcome even the slightest degree of skepticism. Instead, it felt as though Shadyac’s supposed breakthrough was actually just a shift from an obsession with consumption to an overwhelmingly condescending mindset. I spent the entire film disgusted with Shadyac’s holier-than-thou attitude.

    This is the perfect movie for lost souls who fall under the spell of anything motivational. For anyone else, except to feel an overwhelming desire to storm out of the theatre grumbling about how many annoying people adopt idealistic stances without doing anything concrete. Sorry Mr. Shadyac, I’m not drinking the kool-aid just because you moved from a mansion to a mobile home (in North Malibu might I add… not exactly shabby).

    Overall, this documentary doesn’t indicate any real change that can be made. Is Shadyac suggesting we just completely abandon capitalism and all consumer behaviors and boom the world will be a better place? Enjoy fantasy land Mr. Shadyac and please don’t expect my plug for your film on Facebook or Twitter, as you weirdly begged for as our film class concluded. You should be glad no one is taking to Facebook to slam this completely contrived film.

    On a side note, I have a great deal of respect for many of the people featured I Am. Honestly, the only touching moments were not part of the actual film but instead the parts of the credits that honored Shadyac’s father (who was instrumental in the success of St. Jude Children’s Hospital) and Howard Zinn.

  • Anonymous

    Hollywood new age feel good movie.  Good soundtrack!

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