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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 Good Sam is a 2019 feel-good look at a mysterious do-gooder who gives gifts anonymously, $100,000 at a time, leaving the packages on doorsteps of New Yorkers who seemingly share nothing in common. A go-getter local TV reporter tries to unmask the Good Samaritan, uncovering unsavory political maneuverings and destroying her hope that some people do good without wanting anything in return. Someone speculates that all the money might be associated with illegal drugs. A man and woman kiss. A man uses a friend to promote his career. A firefighter saves people from a burning building and also a man who has fallen off a scaffolding. Someone describes a man being knocked in the head on a sailboat and falling overboard to his death.
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What's the story?
In GOOD SAM, Kate (Tiya Sircar) is a danger-seeking New York City television reporter specializing in fires and other disasters. When she's sent to cover a mysterious Good Samaritan who anonymously left $100,000 at the doorstep of a woman in need, she balks at working the soft feature story, longing for riskier assignments. But when large donations are left on the doorsteps of three more people with seemingly nothing in common, she's eager to learn the donor's identity. Her first good lead brings her to the doorstep of Eric (Chad Connell), a heroic firefighter she's covered before. She's looking for his brother, Patrick, but learns he's died. Tongue-tied at meeting the handsome Eric, she fails to follow up and pursues other leads. Several people claim to be "Good Sam," including a hedge fund manager named Jack (Marco Grazzini), a friend of her senator father. Jack pursues her at the same time he agrees to an interview, but when he turns out to have ulterior motives for seeking the positive publicity, she loses interest, still hoping that someone out in the great big world is doing good things without expectations of reward or recognition. When Kate finally discovers Good Sam's identity, her faith is restored.
Is it any good?
Good Sam is a weakly-reasoned, movie-of-the-week-quality piece that oversimplifies how reporters work, how newsrooms work, how politics work, and how romance works. The audience knows who Good Sam is for three-quarters of the movie, but Kate and her team of supposedly-professional investigators remain clueless until the movie is nearly over. That Jack is slimy and untrustworthy is also given away immediately, but ace reporter Kate only figures out "something is wrong" after alarm bells have been going off long and loudly in the audience's ears. Kate goes on the air with a claim that she has no independent corroboration for, a big no-no in the most elementary Journalism 101 course, never mind a big-city TV station news department.
And in this age of rampant claims about "fake news," the last thing anyone wants to see is a movie in which a reporter airs a false story without checking it out thoroughly. Plus, why would a donor laboring to keep his name out of the news donate money in bags emblazoned with a big clue to his identity? Since the story's outcome is hinted at far earlier than Kate is able to pick up on all the clues, viewers are left bored, waiting for the movie to wend its way toward an anticlimactic conclusion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether you think anyone would leave large bags of cash on the front doors of people in need. Do you think leaving money out in the open would be wise in a big city like New York?
Why do you think Kate goes ahead and believes someone claiming to be Good Sam without first finding corroborating evidence?
Do you think Kate seems like a responsible journalist? Why or why not?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.