Sam (Jake Hoffman) has come home to take care of his father, Bill (Dustin Hoffman) who’s elderly and not in the best of health. Whilst there he meets Kate (Schuyler Fisk) and there’s an instant attraction. Not being able to put the right words together though, Sam fumbles when he tries to ask Kate for a date, but then fate takes a turn when Bill and Sam meet Tina (Sissy Spacek).
It turns out that Tina is Kate’s mother and there seems to be a similar spark between father and mother as there is between son and daughter, and gradually the two pairs get closer. Although that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some complications along the way.
Sam & Kate is a bittersweet romantic drama starring a real-life father and son and a real-life mother and daughter. Starting out in the typical formula of a romantic comedy all the characters are introduced, feelings are felt and it plays out like any other comedy of its type. The distinction between dating in the older and younger generations are highlighted as well, with Bill’s old-world charm met with Sam’s awkwardness and more casual approach.
However, it’s the change in tone which makes it less of a crowd-pleasing comedy ensemble and more of a melodrama as issues are raised about a couple in their twilight years getting older. This shift may also feel a bit jarring as more real-world problems arise, making it feel more grounded than perhaps it should have been.
This doesn’t really help either when there are still comedic elements put in despite everything else. Making certain aspects like Sam’s best friend, Ron (Henry Thomas) end up feeling like they’re in an entirely different movie.
Those expecting a light-hearted romantic comedy filled with misunderstandings and a feel-good tone will certainly be surprised and perhaps not in a good way. Because despite all the good performances from its central cast, the change feels like an unnecessary rug pull.
It’s good to see a couple of family members working so closely together and it’s nice to see that such great actors as Hoffman and Spacek have inspired their children. However, for those with elderly parents it may be a little close to home.
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