Sam and Kate

Where I Watched it: iTunes

English Audio Description?: no

This is one of those examples I brought up about why audio description should be on more things… because households sometimes aren’t like 100% blind, and we all share spaces, and live together? Well, i watched this with someone else that I knew would like a film starring Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek. Because of that, and they know there was no audio description, I got some things explained to me along the way that I would not have been able to understand without.

That being said, i will be giving this film a grade, because i was able to understand it. i actually think that this film might be unwatchable though. There are major plot points that are visual cues that if i wasn’t watching this with a sighted person, i would have missed.

The Sam and Kate here actually aren’t the old folks, it’s their kids. literally. The gimmick here is that these are two relationships, and the Sam and Kate are Jake Hoffman and Schuyler Fisk, who are romantically entangled in the film. But they each have a parent in the film they help take care of, and those parents are starting to like each other. Those parents are played by Dustin Hoffman an Sissy Spacek.

For those who still are lost, in real life, AJake Hoffman is the son of Dustin Hoffman, and even spent a portion of his childhood acting in his dad’s films, like Rain Man and Hook. Fisk, who is also a singer, is the daughter of Spacek, and has also acted in the past, interestingly against the son of another Hollywood icon, Colin Hanks in Orange County (the son of Tom Hanks). So, nepotism. That’s the gimmick here.

Still, it’s cool to see that play out in fictional characters. The film is well written enough, but I was never really interested in either Sam or Kate, or their relationship. Sadly, those two are not their parents, and are being out acted by legends. Jake Hoffman in particular gives one of the weirdest and worst performances of the year. Considering the material given, and the fact that Jake must be coming to terms with his fathers actual mortality given his age, Jake’s connection to the emotions in his character just are not there. He doesn’t have the screen presence or range anywhere near his father.

For what it’s worth, Fisk on the other hand, may not have the dramatic range of her mother, but she has a personality that works well on screen. She is much more comfortable, and actually not terrible given her material. It’s just that seeing her constantly opposite Spacek reminds me how long she still has to go. This is not a Kirk Douglas and Michael Douglas scenario. Actually, this is a lot closer to Tom Hanks and Colin Hanks. Colin is talented, but his father is just impossible to top. Fisk can have a long career, and be very good in many things, but she’ll never be her mother.

So, this film is an odd reminder of where these actors sit, and how truly rare it is to have a child that is anywhere near as good as their parent in an acting family.

Like i mentioned earlier, there’s an element with this film that is visual having to do with Sissy Spacek’s character. There’s a scene that seems very odd if you don’t understand the context, and without audio description, a blind person by themselves would miss it, and might later figure it out based on how the film moves forward. But even then, you’re still having to play detective.

Sam and Kate was a nice experiment, but it just shows how much difference there is between parents and their kids, and it really does need audio description. Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek are both predictably great, but both have also been better in more challenging roles.

Final Grade: C+

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