Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Am (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

I Am

     Tom Shadyac is a famous comedy director known for hit films "Ace Ventura" and "Bruce Almighty". In 2007, Shadyac experienced a bicycle accident and suffered a concussion. Despite seeming recovery, his symptoms did not go away. He was diagnosed with Post-concussion Syndrome which Shadyac likens to Hell, experiencing months of crippling paralysis and months of self imposed exile, unable to move or travel.
     The documentary "I Am" is a diary of Shadyac's struggle with illness and his quest to make sense of his former life as a somewhat selfish Hollywood director. His self analysis forces him to question society's true intentions. What exactly is the human purpose? And are we as a species, selfish by design?
     This is a weighty question. Some might say it is loaded, despite the film's convincing argument for working together for our collective happiness. For every ten arguments for looking out for our fellow man, there is another ten validating our self interest.
     No matter what side your shadow is cast on, Shadyac makes a valid case for our communal co-operation, interviewing iconic speakers like Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Desmond Tutu. These snippet talks are interspersed with familiar shots of New York's Stock Exchange, the movie character Gordon Gekko and luxury shops. At times the movie skips a bit and seems like a channel surfing montage from Al Gore's television. Despite these moments that seem a bit pre-packaged, there is some valid information regarding the nature of kindness and the biology between the heart and the brain. I remain skeptical though, about the ability of our emotions to affect a petri dish of yogurt. Really?!?
     It is Tom Shadyac himself, however, that saves the film from being a mere altruistic infomercial. He is comically nonchalant and heroically deadpan with pratfalls and stumbles. When he returns to his Malibu mansion and shakes his head, Shadyac is a serious silly man, with more karmic comedy that any Jim Carrey can mask.          He is compelling to watch and one wishes for more of him.

Write Ian at

No comments: