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Starring: Gabriel LaBelle, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, Jeannie Berlin, Julia Butters, Robin Bartlett, Keeley Karsten
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Coming-of-age drama directed and co-written by Steven Spielberg. The Fabelmans (2022) centers on aspiring filmmaker Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle) growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, who discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth about each other and ourselves.
Our Favorite Quotes:'Remember this. When the horizon's at the bottom, it's interesting. When the horizon's at the top, it's interesting. When the horizon's in the middle, it's boring as s**t.' - John Ford (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Younger Sammy Fabelman: [referring to the movie theater] It’ll be dark in there, you said. I don’t want to go in.
Burt Fabelman: But it’s fun. All week, you’ve been so excited. Your first ever movie.
Younger Sammy Fabelman: And the people are gigantic.
Burt Fabelman: What people?
Younger Sammy Fabelman: You said the people in the movie are gigantic.
Burt Fabelman: Oh, because of the big screen they’re on. But they’re not real, right?
Mitzi Fabelman: They’re like dreams.
Younger Sammy Fabelman: Dreams are scary.
Mitzi Fabelman: Some dreams are, but this is going to be a nice dream.
Mitzi Fabelman: [to young Sammy] Movies are dreams, doll, that you never forget. You just wait and see. When it’s over, you’re going to have the biggest, sloppiest smile on your face.
Burt Fabelman: I told you this wasn’t a good idea, what with all of his A-N-X-I-E-T-I-E-S.
Mitzi Fabelman: Kids his age have big I-M-A-G-I-N-A-T-I-O-N-S.
Younger Sammy Fabelman: No fair spelling out the long words.
'You can't just love something. You also have to take care of it.' - Burt Fabelman (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Mitzi Fabelman: You know what I miss most about the piano? Surrendering to the score. Knowing Bach is going to tell you how, first this note, then this chord, then you open your hand, you stretch down an octave. Making a little world you can be safe and happy in.
Mitzi Fabelman: Sammy, we’re going to use Daddy’s camera to film it. Only crash the train once, okay? Then after we get the film developed, you can watch it crash over and over until it’s not so scary anymore. And your real train will never get broken. One more thing, dolly. Let’s not tell your father. It’ll be our secret movie, just yours and mine. Okay?
Younger Sammy Fabelman: Okay.
Hadassah Fabelman: [as they’re eating dinner, referring to Mitzi] This tastes funny, Burt. It tastes funny on a plastic fork. Is she saving the silverware for when the Eisenhowers drop by?
Mitzi Fabelman: [to Bennie] I love Burt’s brain. Especially when you’re around to explain what’s in it.
Younger Natalie Fabelman: Uncle Bennie, that was so disgusting!
Hadassah Fabelman: Natalie, he is not your uncle. Also, he is not that funny.
'Movies are dreams that you never forget.' - Mitzi Fabelman (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Younger Sammy Fabelman: [as they’re driving through a tornado] Is this safe?
Mitzi Fabelman: Of course it’s safe. I’m your mother.
Mitzi Fabelman: Everything happens for a reason.
Hark: The manual says you got to tell a story with still pictures.
Sammy Fabelman: Yeah, but all a movie is is still pictures. You just put a bunch of them together and they move.
Roger: Okay, but what kind of movie are we making?
Burt Fabelman: You hear how the rising arpeggios lift up the sad notes? It’s in F minor, but your mom makes it sound so alive.
Bennie Loewy: She makes it sound like she’s playing a typewriter.
'Family, art. It'll tear you in two.' - Uncle Boris (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Burt Fabelman: It’s kind of like what I do, isn’t it, what a movie director does?
Sammy Fabelman: It is?
Burt Fabelman: I figure out what my division needs to accomplish, then I work out how my guys are going to get it done.
Sammy Fabelman: Yeah, it is. Yeah, sort of.
Sammy Fabelman: [to Burt] See, the thing is though, about my new movie, is that it’s just, it’s about World War II, your war. It’s going to be like out of this world.
Burt Fabelman: [after Sammy tells him how much an editor machine costs] Doggone it, Sammy! A hundred dollars for a hobby?
Sammy Fabelman: It’s not a hobby, Dad.
Burt Fabelman: If you spent half the time on algebra that you spend on these movies, you could get…
Sammy Fabelman: Algebra? I hate algebra. It’s completely pointless.
Burt Fabelman: Not if you want to make something, it’s not pointless.
Sammy Fabelman: I want to make movies though.
Burt Fabelman: I mean something real. Not imaginary. Something someone can actually use.
Mitzi Fabelman: Why would Mamaleh ever leave all of this for California? We have the Grand Canyon. They have the San Andreas Fault. Mamaleh says, I will never leave Arizona. And Arizona will never leave me.
'Sticking your head in the mouths of lions was balls. Making sure the lion don't eat my head, that is art.' - Uncle Boris (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Burt Fabelman: [after Burt asks him to make a camping movie] I’m asking you to do this now for your mom.
Sammy Fabelman: Yeah, and I said that I will. Just not like tomorrow.
Burt Fabelman: Don’t be selfish. She just lost her mother. That’s more important than your hobby.
Sammy Fabelman: Dad, can you stop calling it a hobby.
Burt Fabelman: It’ll cheer her up, watching this. It’s something we can do.
Sammy Fabelman: Her mom just died. How is that going to cheer her up?
Burt Fabelman: Because you made it for her. Something’s not right. I don’t know what else to do. Can you help me?
Uncle Boris: [to Sammy] Know what it’s like, huh? Pain in the a**, sisters.
Natalie Fabelman: That’s rude.
Lisa Fabelman: He said “a**”!
Sammy Fabelman: [referring to Burt] He wants me to put this camping film together so it’ll cheer up Mom.
Uncle Boris: Because her heart is broken. Because her mama iz toyt. But you, Mr. Director, you don’t want to do this, what your daddy tells you, because you want to make your war picture, huh? Yeah. Yeah. Believe me, Sammy boy, I get it. Family, art. It’ll tear you in two.
Uncle Boris: [referring to Mitzi] When she was a kid, already she played like that. She should have been a concert piano player. Little Rubinstein, she was. She could have played, you name it, she could have played there.
'Art will give you crowns in heaven and laurels on earth. But it'll tear your heart out and leave you lonely. You'll be a shanda for your loved ones. An exile in the desert. A gypsy.' - Uncle Boris (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Uncle Boris: [to Sammy, referring to Mitzi] You see, what she got in her heart is what you got, what I got. Art. Like me. Like you, I think. We’re junkies, and art is our drug. Family, we love. But art, we’re meshuga for art.
Uncle Boris: You think I wanted to leave my sisters, my mama and my papa, and go stick my stupid head in the mouth of lions?
Sammy Fabelman: Putting your head in a lion’s mouth is art?
Uncle Boris: No. Sticking your head in the mouths of lions was balls. Making sure the lion don’t eat my head, that is art.
Uncle Boris: I want you should remember how that hurt. Because when they say all this, when they say, “What you do? “Oh, that’s cute. It’s a hobby. It’s like stamps, or butterfly collecting,” you feel your face, how it feels now.
Sammy Fabelman: Yeah. You almost pulled it off.
Uncle Boris: So you remember your Uncle Boris and what he’s telling you. Because you’re going to join the circus, I can tell. You can’t hardly wait. You want to be in the big top. You’ll shovel elephant s**t until they say, “Okay, Sammy, now ride the goddamn elephant.”
Uncle Boris: Oh, you love those people, huh? Your sisters, your mama, your papa. Except this. This, I think you love a little more.
Sammy Fabelman: No, I don’t.
Uncle Boris: Yeah. Oh, hey. Run all you want, boychick, but you know I ain’t whistling Dixie here. You’ll make your movies, and you will do your art. And you’ll remember how it hurt.
Uncle Boris: [to Sammy] So you know what I’m saying? Art will give you crowns in heaven and laurels on earth. But it’ll tear your heart out and leave you lonely. You’ll be a shanda for your loved ones. An exile in the desert. A gypsy. Art is no game. Art is dangerous as a lion’s mouth. It’ll bite your head off.
'Guilt is a wasted emotion.' - Mitzi Fabelman (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Mitzi Fabelman: [to Sammy, referring to his movie] It’s so beautiful, what you made, dolly. You really see me.
Natalie Fabelman: And are you ever going to make a movie with parts for girls again?
Sammy Fabelman: What?
Natalie Fabelman: With girls, you know, like because all the men stare off into the distance all the time, maybe a girl could save the day.
Sammy Fabelman: [referring to how to save a drowning person] One is you swim behind the person so they don’t grab you. Two, you throw your arm across his chest.
Reggie Fabelman: Or her chest.
Natalie Fabelman: Not Sammy. He’s too scared of girls boobies.
'Art is no game. Art is dangerous as a lion's mouth. It'll bite your head off.' - Uncle Boris (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Sammy Fabelman: [to Natalie] And speaking of boobies, if you ever get any, we’ll have a party.
Reggie Fabelman: And at the party, we’ll give her the booby prize.
Sammy Fabelman: [to Mitzi] You laugh at everything, even when nothing’s funny. You always have to be the center of attention.
'Why did you get a monkey?' - Sammy Fabelman, 'Because I needed to laugh.' - Mitzi Fabelman (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Mitzi Fabelman: Sammy Fabelman, goddamn it! For weeks now, it has been nothing but disrespect from you!
Sammy Fabelman: Disrespect?!
Mitzi Fabelman: Why are you being such a little s**t to me?! Dammit to hell, I am your mother!
Sammy Fabelman: I wish you weren’t!
[Mitzi suddenly slaps him across the back]
Mitzi Fabelman: [after she slaps him across the back] Talk to me. Oh, Sammy, please talk to me. Tell me what’s happening. Do you have any idea how much I love you?
'Sometimes we just can't fix things and all we can do is suffer.' - Monica Sherwood (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Bennie Loewy: [to Sammy, referring to Burt moving them to California] Yeah, so I’m happy for you. You know I am. But I’m going to miss you. All of you, a lot. You think whatever bad things you want to about me, kiddo. But you stop making movies, it’ll break your mother’s heart. You will break her heart, I mean it. She doesn’t deserve that, not from anybody, least of all from you.
Sammy Fabelman: I’m still done making movies though.
Bennie Loewy: Everybody makes movies in California.
'You do what your heart says you have to, because you don't owe anyone your life.' - Mitzi Fabelman (The Fabelmans) Click To Tweet
Mitzi Fabelman: [referring to her feelings for Bennie] I’ve almost told him so many times. I’ll say, “Burt, there’s something I’ve got to tell you.” Then he looks at me like he can’t conceive that anything could be wrong between us.
Mitzi Fabelman: [to Sammy] I can’t fight with your father. He kills with such kindness.
Sammy Fabelman: Mom, when I showed you what I filmed, I never meant for any of this to happen.
Mitzi Fabelman: Oh. Guilt is a wasted emotion.
Sammy Fabelman: What’s going to happen now?
Mitzi Fabelman: I’m going to be your mom. I’m going to be the girls mom. Despite my countless faults, I’m not ruining everything for everyone. I’m going to not be selfish. Burt Fabelman is the kindest, smartest, wisest, most patient, most decent, most understanding man there is, and I’m going to stay married to him.
Natalie Fabelman: Just tell me if you’re going to mope for the rest of your life, or if it’s something you plan to outgrow.
Sammy Fabelman: Bug off.
Natalie Fabelman: You’re like going for the misery merit badge, you and Mom with your long faces.
Lisa Fabelman: Mom got a monkey!
Sammy Fabelman: Why did you get a monkey?
Mitzi Fabelman: Because I needed to laugh.
Mitzi Fabelman: Psychiatrists help you know why you’re feeling something. They can’t help you feel something different.
Burt Fabelman: IBM’s out of his league, Mitz. Bennie was, is my best friend. But they don’t need him. This is what I know. I don’t need him either.
Mitzi Fabelman: Bennie wasn’t your friend. But you knew he was mine.
Reggie Fabelman: [to Sammy, as they’re listening to them] What does that mean?
Burt Fabelman: Who hit you?
Sammy Fabelman: What do you care who it was? It’s not like you’ll do anything about it.
Sammy Fabelman: [to Burt] Do you even notice how much we hate it here, where we’re practically the only Jewish people for miles, and everything is awful? Do you even care that this is your fault. Everything that’s happening now. Just because you ran away from home and took all of us with you?!
Sammy Fabelman: You didn’t come here to build houses. You didn’t come here to work. You ran away.
Burt Fabelman: I think you have something to say to me, Sammy! And if I’m right about that, then get it off your chest, and say it to my face!
Mitzi Fabelman: I started therapy.
Monica Sherwood: So, you don’t believe in Jesus?
Claudia Denning: Monica’s like totally hot on Jesus.
Monica Sherwood: I can’t imagine my life without him.
Sammy Fabelman: Well, we’ve managed for like five thousand years, so I guess it’s possible.
Monica Sherwood: [referring to the posters on her wall] It’s a lot, huh?
Sammy Fabelman: It’s sort of a shrine almost. Shrine to guys. Lots of guys.
Monica Sherwood: They’re sexy.
Sammy Fabelman: [as he looks at her Jesus statue] I guess. I mean, not Jesus.
Monica Sherwood: Jesus is sexy.
Sammy Fabelman: Isn’t that like a sin, or something?
Monica Sherwood: I don’t know. He came to us as a man. A handsome young man. He could have come as a girl. Or an old man. Or someone with leprosy. But…
Sammy Fabelman: Well, nobody knows what he really looked like.
Monica Sherwood: Probably he looked like you.
Sammy Fabelman: Oh. Because he was…
Monica Sherwood: Jewish. A handsome Jewish boy. Just like you.
Mitzi Fabelman: [referring to the monkeys in zoos] They understand what we’ve done to them, with the cages and the people pointing. We share that with them, the truth of how cruel people are. But if you watch them for long enough, you can tell they know stuff we can’t begin to imagine. Important stuff. And they’re not going to let us in on it, because it belongs to them. It’s their own monkey business. Theirs. It’s not ours. It’s, oh, I don’t know.
Burt Fabelman: Self-possession.
Mitzi Fabelman: Right. They belong to themselves.
Mitzi Fabelman: Anyway, that’s how come I got a monkey.
Natalie Fabelman: And a therapist.
Lisa Fabelman: He throws his poop.
Monica Sherwood: The therapist?
Lisa Fabelman: No, the monkey.
Mitzi Fabelman: You see, Monica, in this family, it’s the scientists versus the artists. Sammy’s on my team. Takes after me, except he’s got real talent.
Sammy Fabelman: Mom.
Natalie Fabelman: And he’s completely terrible at science.
Reggie Fabelman: And algebra.
Natalie Fabelman: And sports.
Mitzi Fabelman: [to Burt, referring to Sammy] You always dismiss what he does, what anyone does, that’s playful or imaginative as a pastime or a hobby.
Burt Fabelman: You already won, Mitz. I surrendered. I’m not taking the bait.
Natalie Fabelman: [after Burt and Mitzi tell them they’re getting divorced] You can’t ruin everything because you miss one place and you’re stuck someplace else.
Mitzi Fabelman: I miss Bennie too much.
Natalie Fabelman: So? We all miss him.
Mitzi Fabelman: This is a different kind of missing.
Natalie Fabelman: Because what? You love Bennie?
Reggie Fabelman: Stay together. You love each other, and you love us, and we don’t want this. We don’t want to have to move back and forth and not live with both of you. We can’t. Dad, we can’t.
Natalie Fabelman: You’re always so mean to him! That’s why you’re getting divorced! It’s because of you!
Burt Fabelman: Don’t blame your mom. This wasn’t her idea. It was mine.
Reggie Fabelman: I don’t understand how you can go back to your beach blanket movie after that.
Sammy Fabelman: We’re different, I guess.
Reggie Fabelman: Is she going to marry Bennie?
Sammy Fabelman: If she wants to, she will. God, she’s the most selfish person in the world.
Reggie Fabelman: It must’ve been hard for her, married to a genius.
Sammy Fabelman: Dad worships Mom.
Reggie Fabelman: Okay. But maybe it’s hard being worshipped by someone you know you’ll never be as good as, or ever do anything as good as. She laughs at Bennie’s jokes, but Dad’s always been her best audience.
Sammy Fabelman: She’ll be fine. She’ll tell herself everything happens for a reason. She’ll make excuses like she always does.
Reggie Fabelman: You’re way more selfish than her. That’s why you’re angry at her. It’s because she’s scared, just like you, Sammy. Out of everyone in this out of control, falling apart family, the one who’s most like Mitzi is you.
Monica Sherwood: [as he gives her a gold cross necklace] Did you find Jesus?
Sammy Fabelman: In a jewelry store.
Monica Sherwood: [to Sammy, after he tells her he loves her] I’m not going to change my whole life, and move to Hollywood, because your parents are having marital difficulties.
Sammy Fabelman: Are you breaking up with me?
Monica Sherwood: Not at prom, but of course, eventually. I’m going to pray on it. And I’m going to pray really, really hard for you, because you’re such a fun boy to kiss. But sometimes we just can’t fix things, Sam, and all we can do is suffer.
Sammy Fabelman: Logan, all I did was hold the camera, and it saw what it saw.
Logan Hall: Oh, bulls**t! Fabelman. You made me look like this golden kind of thing.
Logan Hall: [referring to Sammy making him the hero of the movie] I want to know why you did that.
Sammy Fabelman: I don’t know. I ought to have my head examined.
Logan Hall: Am I supposed to feel bad now about all that s**t we did to you?
Sammy Fabelman: Do you feel bad about all that s**t?
Logan Hall: That’s none of your goddamn business!
Sammy Fabelman: I wanted you to be nice to me for five minutes! Or I did it to make my movie better. I don’t know why. You are the biggest jerk I’ve ever met in my entire life. I have a monkey at home that’s smarter than you! You dumb, anti-Semitic a**hole! I made you look like you could fly.
Logan Hall: But I can’t fly. I can outrun any guy in Santa Clara County, and I worked real hard to do that. But you, you make me feel like I’m some kind of failure, or a phony, or like I’m supposed to be some guy I’m never going to be, not even in my dreams. You took that guy, whoever he is, wherever you got him from, and you put him up there on that screen, and told everyone that that’s me. And that’s not me.
Logan Hall: You like living dangerously, Fabelman.
Sammy Fabelman: No, I don’t. I really, really don’t.
Logan Hall: Yes, you do. But you tell anybody about me getting upset, that would be a mistake. Our secret. Okay?
Sammy Fabelman: Definitely. Unless I make a movie about it. Which I’m never ever going to do.
Sammy Fabelman: [referring to the joint] What’s it like?
Logan Hall: It kind of shows you how out of control everything is, and how you’re not in charge of anything. And how it doesn’t matter.
Sammy Fabelman: I better not. In my head, everything’s already out of control.
Logan Hall: You’re full of s**t.
Logan Hall: Life’s nothing like the movies, Fabelman.
Sammy Fabelman: Maybe not. But hey, in the end, you got the girl.
Mitzi Fabelman: That time when I hit you. In Phoenix, when I… Oh, God. You remember.
Sammy Fabelman: Not really.
Mitzi Fabelman: Oh, for the love of God, it’s not like I spent my whole life hitting you. Once. I hit you once. It should’ve been memorable.
Mitzi Fabelman: I’m doing this thing. And I don’t know if it’s the right thing, but it’s a life-and-death thing for me. And I’m sorry, but everybody else is going to have to hang on for dear life. And somehow, we will survive this, all of us. Even your father, who I adore with all my heart. He deserves so much better than what I’m doing, but Bennie needs me, dolly. And I need him. So much so that without him, I’m turning into someone I don’t know, and none of you will know me anymore. I’ll just be that hateful person who did that terrible thing to your back. And, yes, this is the most selfish thing I have ever done. But I’ve got to do this now because, Sammy, you do what your heart says you have to, because you don’t owe anyone your life. Not even me.
Sammy Fabelman: [to Burt] I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t want to disappoint you, and I promised that I’d stick it out. But two years is like forever, and I hate school. Like a lot. And I want to get work on a movie or a TV show. So I send out all those letters, but nobody ever writes back. And my life is just going by so fast, but it’s not getting anywhere.
Burt Fabelman: This film thing, I don’t know. Maybe I should have put my foot down about it years ago, but I know you’re going to work like the dickens on whatever you wind up doing, because you’re a chip off the old block. We’re never not going to know each other, Sammy.
Sammy Fabelman: How do you know that? You and Mom don’t anymore.
Burt Fabelman: Yes, we do. We always will. I know it because we’ve gone too far in our story to actually say “the end”.
Bernie Fein: [to Sammy] You know who you need to meet? I mean, not for a job, because he doesn’t do that. How would you like to meet the greatest film director who ever lived? And he’s right across the hall.
John Ford: They tell me you want to be a picture maker.
Sammy Fabelman: Yes, sir. I do.
John Ford: Why? This business, it’ll rip you apart.
John Ford: So, what do you know about art, kid?
Sammy Fabelman: I love your movies so much.
John Ford: No. Art.
John Ford: Now, remember this. When the horizon’s at the bottom, it’s interesting. When the horizon’s at the top, it’s interesting. When the horizon’s in the middle, it’s boring as s**t. Now, good luck to you. And get the f*** out of my office!
Sammy Fabelman: Thank you.
John Ford: My pleasure.