Director Steve Spielberg is responsible for some of the most iconic films in Hollywood history. Who can forget the first time you saw "Jaws" or "E.T."? I know I won't. Spielberg is back in the directors chair with the release of "The Fabelmans", loosely based on his adolescence and his years as a budding film director. His story is told through the fictional character Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) and begins in 1952 in Haddon Township, New Jersey. The film begins with Jewish couple Mitzi (Michelle Williams) and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano) taking their young son to see his first movie, "The Greatest Show on Earth'', and Sammy is terrified of what he is about to witness. His parents calm him down, and as the movie unfolds, Sammy is dazzled by the experience and as a result of the film's famous train crash scene, requests a model train set for Hanukkah. Sammy creates the film's crash scene with his train set one night, and in order not to destroy his set, Mitzi allows him to film the scene with his dad's 8mm camera so he can watch the crash whenever he wants. As a result of this experience, Sammy begins to film his sisters in various circumstances, and proves to have a creative eye for filmmaking. The family is uprooted when Burt receives a new job, and they soon move to Phoenix, Arizona along with Burt's best friend Bennie Loewy (Seth Rogen), whom the family calls "Uncle Bennie". The film then moves forward as we see a teenage Sammy continue his filmmaking with his friends who are all Boy Scouts. Sammy begins using post-production effects in his films and this results in a badge for photography.
When the family goes on a camping trip, Sammy films a lot of the trip, and this will later result in a harsh discovery for him. When the family returns home, Mitzi's mother passes, leaving the family, and especially Mitzi, distraught. In order to help cheer Mitzi up, Burt convinces Sammy to edit together the camping trip film so they can all watch it together. Before he can edit the camping footage, the family get a visit from Mitzi's Uncle Boris (Judd Hirsch), a former film worker and lion tamer of all things. Boris leaves his nephew with some words of wisdom of how his passion for filmmaking may affect his family, but encourages Sammy to follow his passion. After his uncle leaves, Sammy begins editing the camping trip footage, only to make a shocking discovery involving his mom. When he shows his mom the footage, he promises to tell no one of what he discovered. Shortly after this shock, the family is uprooted once again, this time to Saratoga, California, with Bennie staying behind in Arizona. As the family is about to leave, Bennie gifts Sammy with a new film camera, as he has witnessed his filmmaking talents. When the family arrives in their new town, Sammy is met with anti-semitic abuse by a few of the students, and hates the new school and town, until he meets fellow student Monica (Chloe East). The two begin dating, and she encourages Sammy to film the school's upcoming Senior Skip Day at the beach. The film is a hit when shown at a school dance, and results in Sammy making peace with one of his tormentors. The rest of the story follows Sammy after high school graduation living and attending college in Hollywood, where he eventually is able to meet a famous film director John Ford (David Lynch) who provides the budding filmmaker with some wise advice, which leaves Sammy beaming. According to Spielberg he had been thinking of directing a film about his childhood as far back as 1999, but due to how his parents might feel, he decided to present his childhood using a fictional family in order not to make things "too personal". However he decided to present his early life, this film is a winner. Speilberg revealed the film is very personal, and was a way to bring his mom and dad back. While the film does present the challenges and difficulties the family endured, it also reveals how Spielberg's filmmaking talents developed from age seven to eighteen. All the actors are wonderful, with Willimas flirting with a possible Oscar nomination in the role of Sammy's mom. For those with a love for quality films, I highly recommend "The Fabelmans". Now playing in theaters. (Rated PG-13)