Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What We've Been Watching: I Am

I Am 2011 ★★

A friend told us about this documentary, adding that it was rather one-dimensional but that he found it worthwhile.

The premise: Hollywood director Tom Shadyac, known for Hollywood hits (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty) suffered a serious accident that left him in a great deal of pain. It led him to a personal journey to answer these questions:

1) What is wrong with the world?

2) What can we do about it?

What he found is the subject of this documentary.

Ultimately, this is well-meaning, simplistic, and shallow with somewhat suspect science presented. The science may actually be just fine and I'd really like to think it is valid, but it left me with a lot of logical loopholes unclosed. Also, certain of the experts presented, with little if any mention of the mission of various companies or institutes, continually made us wish for more solid credentials in a few spots.

In a sense, this is the believer's version of Bill Mahr's Religulous. If you're one of the choir, this preaching is going to work for you. It sets sights for the desired destination and tailors the provided information accordingly to get there.

The documentary would definitely have been stronger if Shadyac had shown how some people were trying to make things better, even through very small change. Instead we saw him hugging strangers and laughing and dancing in the streets. Nothing wrong with that but it leaves one with the impression that it could have been a sudden enthusiasm that would wear off.

On Wikipedia, we saw that he has founded a homeless shelter and given to help preserve nature. Even that, with the risk of self aggrandizement, would have been something to take away in terms of love-in-action.

However, it may be enough to help some seekers think about the big pictures in terms of how each person's small actions can add up to big change.

I will say that, valid science or no, Shadyac's conclusions are perfectly in line with Catholic teachings. Those in the Church have not always lived up to the high ideals and mission of our Master, as we must admit. However, the idea that we are all connected, that loving our neighbor is the answer to "what's wrong with the world" and that helping others also helps us are some of the basic things I've learned to try to live up  to in my life as a Catholic.

I especially was intrigued with the idea that all life on earth is connected. Shady science? Legitimate science? All I know is that it resonated on many levels and brought to mind the teaching that our sins affect the whole world, so we're letting down more than ourselves when we choose poorly.


  1. I believe there are several theories out there saying that everything in the universe is somehow related to everything else. But I'm not scientifically-minded enough to answer that or go into fuller detail. Dean Koontz tries to get it across in "From the Corner of His Eye" and I think he succeeds quite well.

    But he is right with his title. The problem with the world is me.

    1. JD, it doesn't take a genius to see the documentary could use more detail without taxing our minds. :-)

      Yes, he refers to G.K. Chesterton several times. However, that answer is also the answer to the second question ... and that is what is easy to overlook. Even small things add up. :-)

  2. I apologize for contacting you via comments, but I wanted to give you and update. About two months ago or so I asked you about a book called Fall of the Gods Time to Choose. I am truly a picky reader and requested your opinion on it before I bought it. You hadn't heard of it, so I figured at its price what could be the harm. I'm so very glad I did. I loved it! Just thought I would let you know and maybe suggest a book to you for once. :-)

    1. Don't apologize! :-)

      I've got the Kindle sample downloaded now. Thank you for the book suggestion! :-)