Sam & Kate
Pot-positive drama about family isn't intended for teens.
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Sam & Kate
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sam & Kate is a dramedy starring father-son pair Dustin and Jake Hoffman and mother-daughter duo Sissy Spacek and Schuyler Fisk. The storyline follows two adult children who are taking care of their aging parents, with both the older characters and the younger ones pursuing romances. Expect flirting, dating, kissing, and implied sex (characters are shown in bed together after the fact). All of the characters smoke, whether it's cigars, pot, or cigarettes. The pot use in particular is presented very positively. Counter-stereotypical portrayals include a man who's sensitive, caring, and emotional. The film also offers a compassionate look at a mental behavior disorder. And it addresses loss, including the loss of a child. There's some swearing and insult language ("a--holes," "f--k," etc.), as well as sexual slang.
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What's the Story?
When SAM & KATE initially meet, they don't realize how much they have in common. Both are the sole caretakers of their aging parents, Bill (Dustin Hoffman) and Tina (Sissy Spacek). When Bill and Tina start pursuing a romantic relationship, it pulls Sam (Jake Hoffman) and Kate (Schuyler Fisk) together, too.
Is It Any Good?
On its face, this is a sweet romance about a couple of 40ish adults trying to live their lives while managing difficult parents who are getting toward the end of theirs. But on another level, Sam & Kate feels like it has an agenda of promoting cannabis use among adults. One of viewers' first glimpses into the life of Sam, a fantastic character brought to life with gentle complexity by Jake Hoffman, is him schlepping through his menial job in a chocolate factory. We don't know much about his life prior to this, just that he was an artist who put his professional aspirations on hold to come back to his small hometown to care for his aging father. On break, he and his musician friend, Ron (Henry Thomas), smoke pot. His dad reprimands him for his pot use and, later, the fact that he's high does have a consequence -- but it's not emphasized. What is glowingly highlighted is two older women talking secretively about how marijuana offers benefits. And when one of them tries it, the sky parts and sunshine lights her face -- just a few puffs, and it seems she's healed of all that ails her.
Whether or not extolling pot use was writer-director Darren Le Gallo's intent is beside the point: Sam & Kate isn't really for kids. The storyline may make it a fine choice for adult children to watch with their parents or grandparents, but there's not much here to entertain teens. Adults may be tickled by seeing Dustin and Jake Hoffman playing father and son, and Spacek and Fisk playing mother and daughter. Those relationships, not to mention the actors' physical similarities, create a wonderful familiarity and authenticity. What's even more fun is that while, yes, of course, the Academy Award-winning actors give fantastic performances, their 40-year-old progeny are the ones you can't keep your eyes off of. Jake Hoffman and Fisk are both working actors, but Le Gallo really gives them their moment to shine here -- and they run with it. When they smile, it reaches into your soul and leaves you wanting to see more from these two talents.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Sam & Kate portrays smoking and drug use. Are they glamorized? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?
Three acting families are involved in this film: the Hoffmans, the Spacek-Fisks, and writer-director Darren Le Gallo and his wife, Amy Adams, who executive-produces. When family members work together, do you see it negatively (i.e., as nepotism), or do you like seeing families working together? How do you think the familiarity affects the final product in Sam & Kate?
Are Bill and Tina stereotypical love interests? What about Sam and Kate? Why or why not? Why is positive representation of all kinds important?
How do Sam and Kate treat their parents with empathy and compassion? What's the difference between these two life skills, and why are they important?
- In theaters: November 11, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: February 1, 2023
- Cast: Jake Hoffman, Schuyler Fisk, Dustin Hoffman, Sissy Spacek
- Director: Darren Le Gallo
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Empathy
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some drug use and language
- Last updated: January 27, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
On Golden Pond
Valuable lessons in loving one's family members.
Ricki and the Flash
Teen-friendly dramedy tackles big issues; some edgy content.
The Banger Sisters
A lame script ruins a potentially good premise.
It Runs in the Family
Disappointing story of a dysfunctional family.
Tatum O'Neal's smoke- and booze-filled caper.
For kids who love movies about families
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