ACE VENTURA director sees the light!

Tom Shadyac is the guy who directed Jim Carrey to talk with his butt and Eddie Murphy to wear a fat suit, to name just two of his enjoyable cinematic achievements, but today, Shadyac is focused on less guffaw-inducing issues.

After having a cycling accident in 2007, Shadyac realized certain things I never seem to realize in all my own biking mishaps: That the world is based on too much gratuitous spending, violence, and other negative actions. And that love and compassion are in our DNA and we need to exercise them more while achieving a deeper fulfillment.

His new documentary, I Am, is an exploration of what’s wrong with the world and how each of us can make a step towards solving that. To get more personal instructions on the matter, I talked to Shadyac on the phone about it.

Me: Hi, Tom. You’re not shying away from biking these days, are you?

Shadyac: No. I’ve got a nice helmet and a disposition for adventure.

Me: Good for you. Are you ever afraid people might feel your movie’s message is corny?

Shadyac: More like crazy. The word crazy comes up a lot. But some of our greatest moves as a species have been born from crazy. It was crazy to think the earth was not the center of the universe or it was not flat, and now it’s crazy that there’s a new way to do things based on ideas like love and compassion. I think something great is waiting to be born.

Me: Didn’t your film comedies (Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, Liar Liar, and so on) contribute to world happiness? You won’t turn your back on those, will you?

Shadyac: Why would I? I’ve fallen in love with them even more so. As imperfect as they are, they’re things I believe in fully. Ace Ventura alone has brought a childlike quality that I’m humbled by.

Me: As for adult decisions: What are you doing with all the money you got from selling your mansion and living a simpler life?

Shadyac: It went to people that needed it more than I did–Free the Slaves, Habitat for Humanity, Invisible Children, the Art of Elysium…

Me: Ooh, tell me more about Free the Slaves.

Shadyac: We now know that we have 27 million people living in slavery, including some in America. There’s domestic slavery, sex slavery, and other forms. We have an organization that knows how to go in and free them and give them a life of productivity. Our film is trying to rid the world of the ideology that creates slavery.

Me: Do you regale friends with these newfound philosophies of yours nonstop? Do you run up to people at the mall and hug them?

Shadyac: No. I try to just live in as open a way as possible. If somebody’s interested, I’m happy to speak to them. But I’m not that bad of a dinner date. In terms of how I conduct myself, of course, I do engage people. I want to meet the taxi driver and hear a bit of their story and dignify the person who’s serving, whether it’s a waiter or someone in janitorial service.

Me: Maybe you should call Free the Slaves and get them out of their Servitude!

Shadyac: That could be a beautiful thing, the way they’re serving. The question is, are they free in their service? Emerson said sweeping floors can be a beautiful expression. “Its effulgent daybeams cannot be muffled or hid.” We need people to serve. I’d like to try it.