Parents' Guide to

Sam & Kate

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Pot-positive drama about family isn't intended for teens.

Movie R 2022 110 minutes
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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.

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