The Savages Movie Poster Image

The Savages

Affecting adult drama has mature themes, content.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A woman conducts a long-standing affair with a married man; a father rubs feces on a bathroom wall; adult siblings hesitate when faced with helping their estranged father -- who was emotionally abusive when they were children. Characters also lie and behave in other iffy ways (taking someone else's prescription medication, for example). But for the most part, everyone behaves as decently as they're able, especially Jon and Wendy, who take on the challenge of caring for their father despite the fact that he was no prince when they were growing up.


No real violence, but some shouting among family members and some scenes depicting neglect of children.


A married man sleeps with a woman who's not his wife a few times; they're shown on a bed ostensibly naked under covers, and the woman takes off her top and sits around with just her bra and pants on while talking. A few references to "hard-ons" and the genital area and other frank sex talk.


Plenty of strong language, including "s--t," "f--k," "damn," and more.


Signage for the nursing homes, as well as snippets from an ad. Bertolt Brecht's name is bandied about, as are foundations like the Guggenheim.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults smoke cigarettes and take prescription pills owned by a deceased person (one of the lead characters filches them).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mature, darkly funny drama about an estranged family isn't kid friendly. There's cursing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), an adulterous affair, frank talk about sex and death, smoking, and prescription drug use (pills stolen from a dead person, no less). All of that said, older teens and adults may find much to admire in this thought-provoking story, which approaches a harsh subject -- the impending death of a neglectful parent -- with a gentle-but-honest touch.

Parents say

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What's the story?

As writer-director Tamara Jenkins pointedly shows in THE SAVAGES, ads for nursing homes usually appeal to adult children suddenly faced with the prospect of having those who took care of them needing care themselves. But what happens when your parent never really did take care of you? When he or she was hardly ever there? That's the premise behind Jenkins' brave, smart, and heartbreaking film about Jon and Wendy Savage (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney), siblings who inherit their neglectful father, Lenny (Philip Bosco), when the woman he lives with in Arizona dies and her kids kick him out. Suffering from dementia, Lenny is unable to live on his own; a "rehabilitation home" -- aka nursing home -- in far-away Buffalo (near Jon's house) is the only real option. Forced to look after him, Jon, a college professor willing to let a woman he loves walk away, and Wendy, a playwright unable to get traction in either her professional or personal life, confront the demons of their childhood and begin the process of extracting wisdom from its wreckage.

Is it any good?


Left in the hands of actors less agile and able than Hoffman and Linney, Jon and Wendy easily could have been reduced to harshly drawn characters; thankfully, they rise to the occasion. Hoffman is aloof yet appealing, while Linney is anxious yet persevering. Bosco, too, communicates volumes without doing too much; asked what to do if he falls into a coma, he quickly moves from indignant to angry to deeply sad, his eyes the only real giveaway.

The Savages' power comes from its determination to skirt the maudlin despite its plainly sad narrative. Intense moments -- as when brother and sister ask their father what he'd like them to do in the event of his death -- are played for both dramatic and comic effect. It's a testament to Jenkins and her actors that the transitions go smoothly. Which makes The Savages a worthwhile (if mature) watch.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why so many movies are about dysfunctional families. What's the appeal of watching characters with messed-up lives and relationships? Families can also discuss what it's like to care for ailing parents. Are the siblings' choices admirable or do they make lots of mistakes?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 19, 2007
DVD/Streaming release date:April 21, 2008
Cast:Laura Linney, Philip Bosco, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Director:Tamara Jenkins
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:some sexuality and language.

This review of The Savages was written by

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Parent of an infant, 2, and 11 year old Written byjpoo April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written bys.r.pablo April 9, 2008

A very...serous comedy.

In this independent comedy-drama, starring Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Siblings, Wendy and Jon Savage visit their father at his retirement home, after he acts out, using his fecal matter to write messages on the walls of the home. Forced to move out of the retirement home, Wendy & Jon try to find a new home for their senile father. This is a very serious film, with comic-relief. The content isn't overly inappropriate. The main character has a prolonged sexual affair with a married man. There are few in-explicit sex-scenes, with no nudity. The language is what you would find in most R-rated films, many f--ks and s--ts. Drug content and violence isn't an issue, Wendy's brother Jon gets a neck injury few characters die, one on-screen, but not graphic. I wouldn't recommend this film for people my age, not necessarily for inappropriateness, but for thematic elements. The theme and situations are very mature and wouldn't catch a young teenager's attention. Although this film is considered a comedy-drama, this is very much, a drama. But I do consider this appropriate for ages 14+ depending on the parent's feeling of the film.
Teen, 15 years old Written byFishynmn May 27, 2014

Darkly comic dramedy is frequently depressing, but ultimately uplifting and affecting.

The Savages is a tragic story of love, death, and family that's rough around the edges but comic and heartfelt at it's core. While not everyone will enjoy this darkly comic tale, those who will certainly will take it to heart and will be inspired! Kids and teenagers won't likely be interested in the lives of middle-aged siblings, bonding while taking care of their dementia-stricken, abusive father. Also, the content isn't particularly family-friendly. Content issues include: ___________________________________________________________________ - Two or three sex scenes with some graphic movement._______________ - -Course language ( Something like 7 uses of f--k and occasional uses of s--t and other profanities).__________________________________________ - -Some sexually explicit dialog (including a vulgar use of c--k).__________ - -Stealing of drugs and pill popping._________________________________ - -Mature themes involving death, dementia, racism, etc.________________ ___________________________________________________________________ What also makes The Savages for mature audiences is some dark humor, specifically aimed at old people, but usually not in an offensive way. The main character is involved in an affair with an older man. It is implied that their father was abusive toward his kids. It should be noted that a lot of the movie is focused on victims of dementia. ___________________________________________________________________ *Spoiler Starts Here!* The ending ends on a down-beat note, but the very last scene brings hope and could even be uplifting. Eventually, Philip Bosco's character dies suddenly after being rushed to the hospital. Soon after this Laura Linney's character writes her first screenplay and Hoffman's character goes on to marry his Swedish girlfriend. Linney ultimately breaks up with her married lover, and adopts his dog that she loves, who would have been but to sleep due to old age. This shows us that life is worth fighting for, no matter how old or no matter what they might have done in the past to you. *Spoiler Ends Here!* ___________________________________________________________________ This ending settles nicely with the rest of the movie, and kind of gives it a neat finishing touch. It shows us that life is worth the fight no matter what. This, mixed with its relatively thin premise, somehow stretches to nearly the length of two-hours without barely breaking a sweat. ___________________________________________________________________ Altogether, The Savages is a heartfelt, moving movie that is excellent for adult audiences. Older teenagers who are oddly interested in viewing The Savages should probably do so with caution, not only to be aware of the mature themes but also of the sex, language, and adult situations. The Savages is toward the top of the line when it comes to dark humor and drama, however, to truly enjoy it you have to appreciate it's style.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing