Sam and Elvis
By Andrea Beach,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
So-so teen pregnancy tearjerker has some strong language.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Adoption, especially open adoption, is a great choice for teen moms who can't take care of their baby. It involves a huge sacrifice on the mom's part, but if you love your baby you have to do what's best for it, not for yourself or for anyone else. Not everyone is looking out just for themselves; you have to learn how to trust people so that you can get the help and support you need. Family can be found in surprising places.
Positive Role Models
Although we can empathize with her situation (kid in foster system, pregnant teen), Sam's not a very good role model at first. Anger and resentment add extra edge to her already typical-teen bad attitude. But after she opens up, starts to trust others, she becomes helpful, studious. She finds strength she needs to put what's best for her baby first. Aunt Olin and Larry are ideal models of patience, support. Social worker Rebecca is stereotype of well-meaning but inept government worker.
Violence & Scariness
Sam is in foster care because her father killed her mother. Sam mentions that her father used to smack her when he was drunk "until I learned to dodge." Sam has a black eye she says she got from playing touch football.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Main plot revolves around teen's unplanned pregnancy and decisions she has to make.
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"S--t," "crap," "damn," "ass," "fart," calling someone a "dirt bag," "chrissakes."
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Products & Purchases
Miscellaneous household products visible in the background. Lay's potato chips, Twix candy. Amazon boxes are featured prominently.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink beer celebrating a holiday. Sam says her father used to smack her when he was drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sam and Elvis is a drama about Sam, a pregnant 15-year-old who's leaving the foster system to go live with an aunt in Florida. The only options mentioned are keeping the baby or putting it up for adoption. There's no violence except a couple mentions of it in the past, and no sexual content except for the discussions and ramifications of a teen pregnancy and mention of losing a baby in the past. Sam says her father used to smack her when he was drunk. Strong language, which characters sometimes correct themselves, includes "s--t," "ass," "damn," and "crap." There are lots of positive messages about open adoption; other messages are about learning to trust and doing what's right for your baby even when it's heartbreaking for yourself. Oh, and the Elvis in question is a taxidermied dog.
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Sam and Elvis
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What's the Story?
In SAM AND ELVIS, things get off to a rocky start when 15-year-old Sam (Marcela Griebler) moves out of foster care and in with her Aunt Olina (Sally Daykin). Before they have much chance to settle in and get to know each other, they find out that Sam is pregnant. Now Sam's got the heavy responsibility of figuring out what she wants, and what the best thing to do is, all while learning how to trust others and let them help.
Is It Any Good?
This teen pregnancy story unfortunately lacks the depth and sparkle to add much that's meaningful to a well-worn plot device. The dialogue in Sam and Elvis is often corny or stilted, and although the actors are pretty good most of the time, they seem like they're playing types of people instead of offering genuine insight into a particular person the audience might be interested in. The ending has a long, drawn-out scene that's meant to get the tears flowing but lasts way too long. And then there's the elephant in the room that makes it feel pretty inauthentic when the only choice Sam has to think about is between keeping the baby or giving it to be adopted; no other options are mentioned.
Teens will relate to Sam and empathize with the difficulties she's faced. And they'll admire her as she finds the courage and wisdom to do what she feels is best. It can be a good opportunity to talk with teens about your family's values and experiences with pregnancy, adoption, and foster care.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Sam and Elvis portrays teen pregnancy and adoption. Is it realistic? Do you know any teens who've been pregnant? What choices did they consider? What happened?
Did you know what open adoption was before you saw this movie? What do you think about it? Do you think it will work out well for Sam and her family?
What do you know about the foster care system in your area? How can we lower the numbers of kids in foster care? How can you help kids in foster care, or if you are being fostered, what would you like people to know?
- On DVD or streaming: February 1, 2019
- Cast: Marcela Griebler, Sally Daykin, Pete Penuel
- Director: Jeffrey Ault
- Studio: Monarch Films
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 7, 2022
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