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1 item from 1993


'Josh and S.A.M.'

2 August 1993 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Thanks to superior craftsmanship and terrific acting by its two young leads, ''Josh and S.A.M.'' succeeds despite an improbable plot. Low on thrills and high on character development, the City Lights Production is a class act from beginning to end.

Produced by Martin Brest and directed by Billy Weber, who has graduated from editing big-budget blockbusters, the Columbia release could find a sizable audience ready for a family film with substance.

Recalling road movies from ''Badlands'' and ''Midnight Run'' to ''Thelma & Louise'' and ''Terminator 2, '' Weber's film skillfully juggles the concepts of free will and embracing fantasy in real life. Though most of the film is believable, it takes one too many turns in its final third. But the net effect is quite extraordinary as Frank Deese's script explores commonplace problems in fresh and inventive ways.

With a mother determined to have her own post-divorce life with a cologne-soaked Frenchman, and a father trying too hard to be the all-American dad, Josh (Jacob Tierney) and his younger brother Sam (Noah Fleiss) are not happy. Sam is quiet and intense, earning the nickname ''alien'' in school, while Josh is quick and imaginative, the more outwardly sensitive but not always the more mature.

In order to maintain Sam's friendship when they are sent by Mom to stay with Dad in Florida, Josh fakes evidence that convinces Sam he is a mutant war machine. Later, after they've run away in a bizarre set of circumstances, Josh has a hard time convincing Sam he's normal.

Tierney and Fleiss are very talented youngsters who continually make the material seem fresher than it really is. For the most part, the elaborate feelings children have and the complex ways they cope with stress and unhappiness are authentically rendered. Restraint is a key element to making the film work, particularly when Martha Plimpton as a footloose compadre enters the plot.

The film's mostly gloomy atmosphere is also carefully orchestrated, with the dreamy rhythm of Terrence Malick evoked more than the breezy sweep of Brest. Don Burgess' cinematography is first-rate and Thomas Newman's score is lushly on the mark.

JOSH AND S.A.M.

Columbia Pictures

Castle Rock Entertainment

In association with New Line Cinema

A City Lights Films Production

Director.......................................Billy Weber

Writer.........................................Frank Deese

Producer......................................Martin Brest

Executive producer.........................Arne L. Schmidt

Co-producers.....................Alex Gartner, Frank Deese

Director of photography........................Don Burgess

Editor......................................Chris Lebenzon

Production designer...................Marcia Hinds-Johnson

Music........................................Thomas Newman

Costume designer.........................Jill M. Ohanneson

Casting.....................Carrie Frazier, Shani Ginsberg

Color/stereo

Cast:

Josh.........................................Jacob Tierney

Sam............................................Noah Fleiss

Alison.....................................Martha Plimpton

Thom Whitney............................Stephen Tobolowsky

Caroline........................................Joan Allen

Derek...........................................Chris Penn

Jean-Pierre.................................Ronald Guttman

Running time -- 96 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

(c) The Hollywood Reporter

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1 item from 1993


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