You wouldn’t expect the director who gave the world ridiculous films like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Bruce Almighty to make a new-agey documentary about the interconnectedness of all life—but that’s what has happened with I Am, Tom Shadyac’s earnest new feature. Shadyac had an awakening of sorts after suffering a concussion in a bike fall. Visiting progressive gurus such as Howard Zinn, Desmond Tutu, and Rumi interpreter Coleman Barks, he comes to realize that our sick, overconsuming society needs to reconnect with the natural world if it’s to survive. Punch line unnecessary.
This article first appeared in the March-April 2011 issue of Utne Reader.