A briskly variegated, if hardly incisive documentary is an answer to G.K. Chesterson's question, "What is wrong with the world?"
Tom Shadyac's I Am is the Bruce Almighty director's personal tale of recovery after a debilitating (concussion syndrome) bicycle accident. He has quite a guest (talking-head) list in his observation that right is still ahead of wrong in a planet where everyone needs to embrace the love they have inside them. They include South African activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, liberal U.S. historian Howard Zinn and foreign policy pundit/philosopher Noam Chumsky, among others in a variety of fields that stretch from environmental to the media.
A single, successful guy in showbiz who's guided the likes of Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, and Eddie Murphy obsesses not through global strife typically covered - hunger, poverty, and war. From this near-death incident, Shadyac dumps all of his personal wealth after much success with comedy slapstick in Hollywood to reside in a trailer community and teach at Pepperdine University.
You see, our Vagus Nerve releases oxycontin when we witness someone in much discomfort. The key is compassion and cooperation over competition as each human shares 98% of their genetic makeup with its species, including primates. There isn't much insight into why there's much fighting to preserve dominance and territory. Why do the Sunnis and Shiites hate each other so much when they presumably are wired to love and take care of one another like the rest of us should be?
Where the symptoms of all the tension arise doesn't have an easy answer, but Shadyac's optimism understands the necessity to revitalize a crucial, rapid deterioration that isn't out of our hands. While the hypotheses seem to leap from arguably antiseptic invalidated idealisms, I Am sees communal healing as the force against self-serving misery with enough sincerity, optimism and visual verve. Even if the flashy animation and clowning around doesn't say anything that hasn't been said before with more global conflict from the fallout of Japan's devastating earthquake.