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The Fabelmans

February 20, 2023
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Man, it’s going to suck when Steven Spielberg stops making movies…

A coming-of-age story loosely based on Steven Spielberg’s life as a teenager, The Fabelmans follows Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) and his small family as they navigate a shared life that isn’t always as well put together as they make it seem. Focusing on the hidden secrets, honest truths, and complicated relationships that Sammy’s mother, Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman (Michelle Williams), his father, Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), and his surrogate uncle, Bennie Loewy (Seth Rogan), hold between one another, Sammy soon becomes aware of private details about his family that sets him on a course that will change his professional and personal life forever. Using the magic of film to cope with his emotional growing pains and fully realize his dreams in a way only making movies can, Sammy’s journey to find himself is one for the storybooks, brought to you by the only director around that could make a story like this matter.

Full disclosure: I don’t usually gravitate toward biopics in general, even ones that are semi-biographical like this one, but I’m glad I ended up catching The Fabelmans in theaters. From a measured sense of wonder when focusing on a young man trying to find his niche and way in life to an equally as measured sense of emotional realness that connects every scene from beginning to end, The Fabelmans is a great movie on its own without Spielberg behind the camera, which makes things doubly better considering he is behind it, making this film as personal as it gets for a filmmaker who is sometimes more well known for his big-budget blockbusters than his more intimate movies. Full of a kind of humor I didn’t expect but gladly welcomed, small dramatic moments that add up to more than a few heart-wrenching scenes throughout, and even some fun to be had as Sammy explores what filmmaking can mean to a kid like him, and The Fabelmans does a lot with a script that sometimes, I’ll admit, felt a bit boring, but never felt unimportant in what it was trying to accomplish.

And while I loved most of what I saw throughout (that choice cameo at the end as well the film’s final shot were both absolutely brilliant) I found myself wanting more, meaning, for as much as this movie is about filmmaking and why the craft is important to the characters present, it doesn’t say much about what filmmaking means as a whole to society and the people watching it, something I’d love for Spielberg to fully delve into at some point. Sure, that might miss the point of what Spielberg is trying to accomplish with this film — this is really just an autobiography after all — but at the end of the day, I wanted Spielberg’s commentary on why movies matter, especially coming from a guy that quite literally made movies matter, making me want a spiritual successor that pushes the themes of what Spielberg started here even further, bringing his entire personal life and professional life as a filmmaker to a poetic close in a way only he can accomplish.

Of all the stories Steven Spielberg has told over the decades, The Fabelmans is by far his most personal one yet, giving fans an eye-opening look into the life of a filmmaker who has time and time again proven that he’s one of the best to ever do it. There might be a few things here and there that I felt needed to be embellished on and spiced up from scene to scene, but with an unexpected sense of humor, more than enough heart, and a tragic kind of drama that feels all too real, Spielberg is at the top of his game with The Fabelmans.

Man, it’s going to suck when Steven Spielberg stops making movies… A coming-of-age story loosely based on Steven Spielberg’s life as a teenager, The Fabelmans follows Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) and his small family as they navigate a shared life that isn’t always as well put together as they make it seem. Focusing on the hidden secrets, honest truths, and complicated relationships that Sammy’s mother, Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman (Michelle Williams), his father, Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), and his surrogate uncle, Bennie Loewy (Seth Rogan), hold between one another, Sammy soon becomes aware of private details about his family that sets him on a course that will change his professional and personal life forever. Using the magic of film to cope with his emotional growing pains and fully realize his dreams in a way only making movies can, Sammy’s journey to find himself is one for the storybooks, brought to you by the only director around that could make a story like this matter. Full disclosure: I don’t usually gravitate toward biopics in general, even ones that are semi-biographical like this one, but I’m glad I ended up catching The Fabelmans in theaters. From a measured sense of wonder when focusing on a young man trying to find his niche and way in life to an equally as measured sense of emotional realness that connects every scene from beginning to end, The Fabelmans is a great movie on its own without Spielberg behind the camera, which makes things doubly better considering he is behind it, making this film as personal as it gets for a filmmaker who is sometimes more well known for his big-budget blockbusters than his more intimate movies. Full of a kind of humor I didn’t expect but gladly welcomed, small dramatic moments that add up to more than a few heart-wrenching scenes throughout, and even some fun to be had as Sammy explores what filmmaking can mean to a kid like him, and The Fabelmans does a lot with a script that sometimes, I’ll admit, felt a bit boring, but never felt unimportant in what it was trying to accomplish. And while I loved most of what I saw throughout (that choice cameo at the end as well the film’s final shot were both absolutely brilliant) I found myself wanting more, meaning, for as much as this movie is about filmmaking and why the craft is important to the characters present, it doesn’t say much about what filmmaking means as a whole to society and the people watching it, something I’d love for Spielberg to fully delve into at some point. Sure, that might miss the point of what Spielberg is trying to accomplish with this film — this is really just an autobiography after all — but at the end of the day, I wanted Spielberg’s commentary on why movies matter, especially coming from a guy that quite literally made movies matter, making me want a spiritual successor that pushes the themes of what Spielberg started here even further, bringing his entire personal life and professional life as a filmmaker…

8.5

A Special Spielberg Story

The Verdict

8.5

9

Brian is first and foremost a nerd in every way shape and form. He likes to compare himself to a black hole, consuming any and every form of entertainment unlucky enough to get caught in his gravitational pull. It's not uncommon on any given day for him to read a couple comics, settle down with a good book, watch a few movies (inside and out of the theater), catch up on his ever growing but never depleting Hulu queue, challenge himself with a few good video games, listen to any music he can get his hands on and, of course, write his heart out. He spends every waking moment dreaming up interesting and intriguing concepts and ideas that will hopefully one day inspire and entertain anyone looking for an escape from their daily lives. Graduating from Full Sail University in good old humid Florida, Brian currently lives and works in New York City and is waiting for the day when all he has to do is wake up and create something unique and new for people to enjoy. He is always in the process of writing scripts and stories and is constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and build his creative drive. After all, life is just one big story, all that really matters is how you strive to make it the best story possible. Disclaimer: Brian does not actually have powdered green skin in case anyone was wondering. A Skrull I am not. Blame the guys at the Color Run for this one.

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