I Am: The Year's Best-Funded New Age Vanity Doc

If you're going to see one New Age vanity documentary this year, it might as well be the best-funded New Age vanity documentary of the year. Though comedy director Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty) here embarks on a spiritual path that has him shedding mansions and private jets, his deep-pocketed budget shows little of that austerity. The shaggy-haired Shadyac suffered a 2007 bicycle crash that left him with post-concussion syndrome; shaken and depressed, he sets out to diagnose what ails the world and how to fix it. Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky are among the boldface-name philosophers he interviews, but their voices are soon drowned out by a torrent of pseudoscience from experts at places like the Institute of HeartMath and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. We're all connected, you see, because of magnetic fields and DNA! We can possibly predict the future three to five seconds before it happens! Embellished with a lot of CG, supporting clips, and lovely stock footage, I Am's basic tenets are hardly ridiculous: What's so funny about empathy, compassion, and love? Shadyac, looking like the lost triplet of Kenny G. and Al Yankovic, cheerfully indicts his own overconsumption first. And to illustrate our capacity for empathy, I Am offers a quick America's Funniest Home Videos–style montage of crotch-kicks and nut-punches. There, at least, Shadyac hasn't lost his touch.

 
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