Tom Shadyac's documentary I Am is not going to sound good in this review, although it is a good movie and you should see it. It is about what happens when Shadyac, a Hollywood comedy director, gets in a bicycle accident that leaves him with post-concussion syndrome, becomes depressed about the meaninglessness of his filthy rich Beverly Hills mansion- and-gardeners life, and travels the world talking to spiritual leaders, scientists, psychologists, and poets in order to learn that he needs to seriously downsize. Now he lives in Malibu, in what looks like a nice little apartment building. Along the way, Rumi is quoted. Seattle enviro-photographer Chris Jordan makes an appearance. Shadyac gets hooked up to some yogurt in a petri dish, and when he has an emotion, the yogurt measurably experiences his emotion, and he says, "Obviously, I'm not connected to the yogurt. But I'm connected to the yogurt!"

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How is it possible that this movie is good? The only thing that comes to mind is that it might be good just because it's right, that most of the people likely to go to this movie essentially need to be knocked on the head and set right, and we sort of know it.

On the grating side, Shadyac asks Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn if they have heard of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Shadyac's first big movie (he also directed Bruce Almighty and all those movies like that). But the breadth of Big Ideas in I Am eclipses Shadyac's slightly narcissistic tics, which he's suitably embarrassed about anyway. Among the topics discussed: animal democracy (insects and penguins vote!), mirror neurons, humans rescuing dogs in frozen bodies of water, apartheid and its end, people who give free hugs on the street, "quantum entanglement," evolutionary biology, argon atoms, Barack Obama, war, the mental illness of Americanism, and whether you can be neutral on a moving train (no). The title comes from G. K. Chesterton's answer when he was asked what is wrong with the world: "I am." recommended

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