The Fabelmans Review



  • Run Time: 2 hours 31 minutes
  • Studio: Amblin Entertainment
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Where to Watch: In Theaters & Prime Video ($)


Sammy Fabelman is a young boy who lives with his family in New Jersey. His father, Burt Fabelman, is a scientist. Analytical, calculating, and very savvy. His mother, Mitzi, is an artist. She sings, dances, and plays instruments. When Mr. and Mrs. Fabelman take young Sammy to see The Greatest Show on Earth, they are excited because it is little Sammy’s first movie. What they don’t realize is that this event is going to send Sammy down the path to greatness. As Sammy grows up, his cameras are always rolling and capturing the world around him for good or ill. He unwittingly discovers a family secret that will have disastrous consequences if disclosed and he must choose how to see the truth for what it really means.

The Fabelmans stars Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and newcomer Gabriel LaBelle. The combination of Michelle Williams and Paul Dano worked incredibly well. They both nailed their respective roles perfectly. Williams plays an artist, one who follows her heart and won’t sacrifice her happiness for anybody else’s and fosters Sammy’s creativity. Dano is a detail-oriented scientist who gives Sammy his problem-solving and ingenuity. Each one clearly loves their family with a passion and intensity that feels so real. Both play their characters with real conviction.

Gabriel LaBelle is the perfect choice for the Sammy Fabelman role. He wears his heart on his sleeve and cares for his parents and his sisters. But he also has his own worldview that was formed through a viewfinder. He’s angry, and angsty, but also caring and doesn’t want to hurt anybody. So when he exposes a secret, he keeps it to himself and buries it until he can’t take it anymore and still chooses to shoulder the burden for his family. LaBelle was so expressive and emotive the entire time he was on screen and it contributed to an incredible performance.

Seth Rogen is the only one who stands out in this movie as the one who doesn’t belong. I was unaware he was in this movie until he showed up on the screen as Benny, best friend to the Fabelman family. At first, I was like alright, let’s see what Rogen can bring to the table. But as the movie went on and his little chuckle laugh showed up more and more, I found myself to be more and more annoyed with the character. Maybe this is how Sammy viewed Benny because he was less likable as the movie went on. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand why.

Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, who is a frequent Spielberg collaborator, makes this movie feel like a balance between a home movie and big screen drama. The homes and sets that this movie utilizes are detailed and appealing to the eye with lots of lived-in areas that further enhanced the realism of the family. Spielberg’s writing and directing fill these rooms with purpose and emotion that keeps me entertained and engaged throughout the entire runtime. Even though it’s a dialogue-heavy movie, there are still a lot of visually appealing things to look at and it never gets old.

As a semi-autobiographical movie about Spielberg himself, I found it to be incredibly enlightening and entertaining from start to finish. I love behind-the-scenes stuff and seeing how a filmmaker as impactful as Spielberg got his inspiration and honed his craft really made me appreciate this picture all the more. It’s a very interesting twist on the modern biopic and the care that each actor and actress put into their roles made it all the more real and immersive. Spielberg is one of the greatest directorial minds of his talented generation and his story proves why he became the man he is today.

Dylan M.
Dylan M.

Dylan created Movies Not Films as a fun project to stay occupied during the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He started with a simple movie diary on a spreadsheet and eventually transformed it into with a robust catalog of reviews, suggestions, and ranking lists. Currently living with his now-fiancé and two dogs, Dylan has a full-time career but still makes time to watch all the latest movies and most of the new TV shows.

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