Sean Penn is fantastic as usual and continues to add to his reputation as one of the rangiest (can I say that?) actors in Hollywood. If only more would take chances like him and go out on a limb, maybe the Academy and I could agree for once (hear that Denzel, old boy?). Penn's portrayal of Sam is a master's touch and his character is balanced off perfectly by Pfeiffer's take-no-prisoners lawyer Rita Harrison. A perennial favorite of mine, the elegant and always strikingly beautiful Pfeiffer puts on yet another great display and demonstrates once again why people flock to the movie screens at the mere mention of her name. Both Penn and Pfeiffer are supported by a great cast including Dianne Wiest, Richard Schiff and Laura Dern, but another great addition is Sam's little group of friends, who get together regularly for video night, IHOP night and other little sorties they make together, proving that they can be as "normal" as anyone else.
Credit goes out to director Jessie Nelson who conveys a true sense of closeness between the father and the child and who manages to play with your emotions well enough to make you think about what you'd do under the circumstances. Although the pace does get a bit too slow at times, the film's overall mood is as ambivalent as Sam's own, which gives the viewer added empathy towards the guy's predicament. Overall, a very good film, with some great performances, a fantastic newcomer and a story you won't forget anytime soon.
Next up was a 40-minute long documentary entitled "Becoming Sam". This very well-made and very complete documentary can be watched in its entirety or can be watched in 6 individual segments, each featuring a particular topic ranging from storyline, to character, to casting & soundtrack and more. Featuring interviews with cast members and filmmakers as well as some screen tests and production footage, you get treated to some rarities, including an interview with the charming Pfeiffer (you don't see much of her except in the movies themselves). If this woman doesn't make anyone swallow their own hearts, I'll be damned! She's a class act all the way.
Last but not least, in addition to the theatrical trailer, a Theatrical Press Kit is also available, offering more details in text format about the production itself, the cast and filmmakers. The bios are much more complete than what you normally find on one of these things, so it's actually a pretty neat thing to check out.