starring Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogan, Gabriel LaBelle
written by Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner
directed by Steven Spielberg
by Walter Chaw Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle) loves making movies. He loves it so much there's a chance he'll destroy his family because of it--showing things that aren't for public consumption, mishandling the power of the medium, underestimating the magnitude of his gift. We know this because there's a scene where Sammy, while editing raw 8mm footage of a family camping trip, notices his mom, Mitzi (Michelle Williams), getting a little too friendly with family friend Benny (Seth Rogen). He cuts all the incriminating clips together into a mini-reel he projects for Mitzi against the wall of his closet as explanation of sorts for why he's sullen lately, and maybe as punishment for Mitzi, who has just struck him out of frustration. We know this, too, because his obviously insane grand-uncle, ex-lion tamer Boris (Judd Hirsch), has warned him, in a movie-stealing bit of scenery-chewing, that the tension between art and family always ends in tragedy. We know this, too...uh, too, because it's ventriloquized through the mouths of more than one character, including Sammy's bully, Chad (Sam Rechner). Word for tortured word. There are more monologues in Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans than there are dialogues--more peaks than mountains, as it were. More waves than ocean. I don't know why everyone in this movie talks like either a greeting card or a diagnosis, though I think it probably has to do with Spielberg wanting to excavate his past and, in the exhumation, to find easy and uplifting bows in which to tie his various strings. We all want that. I feel for him.