A life-affirming family dramedy starring Oscar®-winners Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek, Sam & Kate takes place in a small town in the heart of the country. Hoffman plays Bill, the larger-than-life father to Sam (Jake Hoffman), who has returned home to take care of his ailing dad. While home, Sam falls for a local woman, Kate (Schuyler Fisk). And at the same time, Bill starts to fall for her mom, Tina (Spacek). But finding love is complicated and for these four, it is no different. They all must confront their past in order to make their new love work for the future. Truly a family affair, art imitates life with the father/son casting of Dustin & Jake and the mother/daughter casting of Sissy & Schuyler.
If you want some big stars for your movie get their children to be in it also. That mix was what made me want to watch Sam and Kate, currently streaming on Peacock. It stars Dustin Hoffman and his son, Jake Hoffman, along with Sissy Spacek and her daughter, Schuyler Fisk. The casting stunt works. Sam and Kate is a sweetly touching drama about death, aging, loss and the bonds between senior parents and their adult children.
Hoffman’s and Spacek’s kids are the real stars of Sam and Kate. It’s their romance story. Spacek and Hoffman are just there to showcase their talented kids and pass the acting torch.
The “typecasting” allows the ensemble to explore the details. It allows them to create the something they want to be from a common nothing. The moments get layered on top of each other and gives Sam and Kate its final emotional punch.
Jake and Schuyler play the typical underachieving talented kids stuck in a crossroads moments. He is an artist working an unsatisfying job at a chocolate factory. She is a folk musician trying to overcome a tragic past. They’re both waiting for their voice defining moment. Hoffman plays the grumpy old man father and Spacek the hoarder widower. Their romance subplot gets explored but never really blossoms.
Sissy Spacek seems to be exploring the late Katherine Hepburn in her On Golden Pond phase. She wears proudly the Hepburn widow bun and the shorthand emotional metaphors implied with its gradual unraveling. Hoffman seems to want to explore a smarter more normal and senior version of his Rain Man character. He ambles awkwardly, and punctuates his dialogue with Jake with alternating compliments and criticism.
The kids know their parents peccadilloes and respond with gentle rejoinders and patient reassurance. Essentially everyone is following the routines of their parent-child relationship. They respect the past and are aware that it’s starting to coming to an end. It’s their way of cherishing all the remaining moments they may have left.
Rather than breeding contempt familiarity brings contentment to the audience. It allows them to easily slip into the story, let it unfold at a natural level and fill in the blanks with their life experiences. The children here aren’t trying to change their parents, just accept them for who they are and want to be. They are content to be a part of the parental walk. The honesty is of age and wisdom that comes from making and learning, correcting life’s little mistakes.
Sam and Kate gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.
Darren Le Gallo
Darren Le Gallo
- Ben Shields Catlin
- Orian Williams
- Ford Corbett
- Cindy Bru
- Darren Le Gallo
- November 11, 2022
- Running time
- 110 mins
- United States