Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2022 1:59 pm 
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Famous actors and their kids do a romantic comedy--sort of

Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek have teamed up with their respective son and daughter, Jake Hoffman and Schuyler Fisk, in a double rom-com playing adult kids and elder parents who double-meet cute. Sam (Jake) and Kate (Schuyler) and parents all live in a small town. Sam has come to take care of his feisty but wobbly dad and has gone back to the chocolate factory where he was employed as a teen. He draws all the time, and shows artistic talent (so we're supposed to think) but hasn't done anyting with it. There's an age-gap between the parents, of course since the double-Oscar Graduate star ("Bill") is 85 and Sissy ("Tina") is 72. He's supposed to have been in some war. What war?

Is this just novelty celebrity casting? Well, the offspring have legitimate acting credits, and they are the main focus of the story, and everyone pulls their weight - though when all four are onscreen simultaneously the writing and the delivery can get chaotic sometimes, or just schmaltzy.

Sam meets Kate in her bookstore, which she owns, and tries to date her, but succeeds only in sharing coffees. They all meet in a church parking lot after a Christmas event in a church. Later the "boys" fix Kate's car and get invited to dinner. Bill dances with Tina. Why is Sam relationship shy? When he tells Kate it's because of "complete insecurity, self loathing," this must appeal to Kate since at this point they almost-kiss. This is interrupted by Bill stumbling in the dance, due to "mixing wine and beer." ("It happens every time.") That's Christmas.

For New Year's, the film cross-cuts between big first-dates of Sam+Kate and Bill+Tina. The oldsters' date doesn't end very well, but Sam+Kate end up in bed. And it goes well. The trouble with Tina is she's a clutterer. Her house freaks Bill out when he glimpses it. When the mess Tina's house is in is reported, the city orders it to be cleared out. Apparently this has happened before. Sam & Kate come to help clear, with some others, one day. (In real life this would probably not be so easy.). This leads Sam to discover secrets of Kate's past. He calls in his stoner buddy Ron (Henry Jackson Thomas Jr. of E.T.) to help him deal with this.

When Tina's friend Beth with a secret also gets stoned at the clutter-clearing party and Tina has a meltdown with Kate, things finally start to get real. (Notably, Bill isn't around: Dustin Hoffman has never seemed real to me, though he can be funny, and briefly scary as well.) But what's with those old photos of Kate? Well, more is revealed about Bill, too. News trickles out. The movie keeps us hanging on.

Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek have their world-class, veteran's skills. Jake has a sincere, slightly ironic hippy charm here. Schuyler Fisk has less presence. Strange kind of rom-com. It just sort of peters out, with a tinkly piano and a wispy song.

Sam & Kate, 110 mins., premiered at Austin Oct. 28, 2022. releases in theaters Nov. 11.

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