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Josh and S.A.M.
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Reviews & Ratings for
Josh and S.A.M. More at IMDbPro »

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15 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

This is actually a brilliant film.

10/10
Author: alistair_deacon-1 from United States
11 April 2005

Josh and Sam is actually a brilliant film. It is unfortunate that it has been panned by so many who fail to understand it and refuse to give the film a fair shake. History will redeem this movie; it is one of the best I have ever seen.

The soundtrack alone would make this movie worth seeing. Thomas Newman (Fried Green Tomatoes, Shawshank Redemption, Road to Perdition) is one of Hollywood's best musical talents, and he scores Josh and Sam beautifully in his trademark hypnotizing style.

Many people are too hard-hearted to appreciate films like Josh and Sam, but that is no reason to say that it is a 'bad' film. It is a tender film. But a good one. And it is internally consistent. Psychologically true. The real fault of Josh and Sam is that it had incredibly bad marketing. "Why run away from home when you can drive?" Whoever thought that tagline up should be shot. And the box cover for the VHS was just as ridiculous. In fact, based on the marketing, I am surprised that I ever watched Josh and Sam, but my brother had somehow seen it at random and after literally years of persuading he finally got the rest of us to watch it. We were blown away.

Josh and Sam is not a children's film, it is just an old style family friendly movie. A throwback to a time before our social entertainments had become commodified and delineated by target demographics. In that sense, as far as genre goes, it is the same type of presentation as J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels -- it has something to offer viewers of all ages.

I would happily pay $50 for a proper widescreen DVD of Josh and Sam. It's sad that the movie has never been released on DVD. But, considering how the film was sold, it's not entirely surprising. Josh and Sam is an emotionally complex film about brothers running away from home and getting in over their heads. More "A River Runs Through It" than "Spy Kids", this is a movie, first and foremost, about human relationships.

Among people who have actually seen it, Josh and SAM has a lot of fans. In fact, it is quite a minority who actually think it is a BAD film (check the votes). "Josh and SAM" isn't for everyone, but it is a very good movie.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

JOSH AND SAM is wonderful.

7/10
Author: tessie.douglass from OHIO
4 December 1999

When i was about 14 i saw Josh and sam for the first time, it was on showtime and i watched it because nothing else was on. Up until that day i had no idea of the open west. I was a city kid and of course the world revolved around my little neighborhood. But Josh and Sam took me away from that. show me there are places out there that aren't made of stone, and opened my mind to the beauty of the open road and what it really means to be free with no boundaries. Just out there in the cool night with no phones, no restrictions just your 1993 Pontiac candy apple red Grand Prix and home is toward the setting sun. This is a great adventure movie for kids and teens 15 and under especially for those with siblings and active imaginations. I highly recommend it.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Quirky runaway adventure

6/10
Author: Mel J from Dundee, Scotland
21 August 2006

'Josh and SAM' is an interesting little film that deals with a variety of issues in a manner that draws in the audience and endears them to the characters.

It revolves around two young brothers, twelve-year-old Josh and seven-year-old Sam, who live with their divorced mother. When she goes on intends to marry her fiancé and relocate to France, the boys are shipped to Florida to live with their father Thom. Although he doesn't intend to, Thom can't help but favour the sporty and energetic Sam over his quiet, geeky elder son and things turn even more sour for Josh when he clashes with his stepbrothers and then learns of his mother's plans to leave them. Bitter at the world, Josh tells his brother that he is a 'SAM', a robot child soldier who must escape to Canada before he is shipped to fight in the war-torn depths of Africa. And when Josh thinks he's accidentally killed a man, he puts his plan to runaway into action.

The two young leads, Jacob Tierney as Josh and Noah Fleiss as Sam, give excellent performances despite their ages and relative inexperience in acting. Tierney portrays Josh's anger and jealousy as well as his vulnerability while Fleiss is effective in depicting Sam's naivety and love/hate relationship with his elder brother.

This is a film that is not only a Boys' Own adventure that takes the two brothers across the country but it is one that looks at family relationships (fraternal bonds as well as dysfunctional parenting and the turmoil of step-families) and the coming-of-age of a pre-adolescent who is very insecure in his world. Although 'Josh and SAM' is obviously aimed at a younger demography, I imagine older teens and adults would enjoy it too as I certainly did both when I saw it aged about thirteen and again when I saw it again around twelve years later. It's a film that has something for everyone and is definitely one of the better lesser-known films of the Nineties.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

hilarious, realistic, suspenseful, and poignant

10/10
Author: ibphred from Fort Belvoir, VA
30 June 2005

This is one of my favorite movies. It is about two brothers, Josh and Sam. Their parents are divorced. Their dad is remarried and seems to like his stepchildren more than Josh because they are athletic and Josh isn't and he doesn't appreciate how bright Josh is. Their mother is getting married to a man who isn't interested in the kids. Sam is the younger brother. He is athletic but is always getting in fights and generally has trouble adjusting socially. Josh persuades Sam that he is a S.A.M. (Strategically Altered Mutant), designed to fight a war in Africa. It starts out as normal sibling torture but Sam believes it because it explains all his social problems. Josh wants to run away because of his horrible home life and Sam wants to run away to avoid going to war. Watching Josh's mind work as he tries to get out of the situations he creates is hilarious and yet it always stays realistic, suspenseful, and poignant. The acting is excellent and the story is tightly constructed. Hopefully this movie will come out on DVD some day but watch it on VHS now.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

long ago ...

Author: Mario Trutschel (laelius@laelius.de) from Ludwigshafen, Germany
15 December 2004

but always will see it again. that movie might touch your heart if you have one. while watching i had to laugh. while watching i was even near the edge of some tears.

lovely and phantastic. i'd like to be 12 again. well we all can, if we do not forget about the most important of our lives: this is the time when we were children. so take whoever you love, like or find likable, sit close together on the couch and let yourself go like the kids in the movie: they are the real heroes!

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

forgettable, but a good movie

6/10
Author: colinwhitefan
8 July 2003

Josh and S.A.M. is probably one of the most best forgotten movies of the 90's. A pair of brothers Josh (Jacob Tierney) and Sam (Noah Fleiss) hit the road after their parents announce their pending divorce. Josh tells Sam that he is a "S.A.M." that is going to be sent to Africa to fight in a war and that Canada is a safe place for any S.A.M. unwilling to fight, they encounter many things along the way to Canada as they realize life at home wasn't that bad. This movie is better than the rating it got, it was actually very entertaining.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

True to life

10/10
Author: miimiic from australia
6 April 2002

I take a kind eye to videos hiding in the back of the store, bottom shelf, under the guise of a faded cover and sometimes this can be very rewarding as was the case with 'Josh & S.A.M.'

The two titular brothers leave their family to find their family, eachother. After feeling ostracised by their family and school peers, they are driven by dejection to escape, human determination and will seeing them through all.

The film also highlights the inner psyche of all who have ever been lonely or outcasted. This in turn offers poignant moments between the brothers as they discuss death and other issues which are sad but real products of today's society like dysfunctional families.

The successful portrayal of these themes relies not only on the clever script writing, but the outstanding performances of the boys, in particular Noah Fleiss (S.A.M). What is frightening though is that such a young actor could have such a mature grasp of these issues displayed by his acting ability, but again this is a reflection on society.

A film where audience age is no boundary. It will captivate the imaginations of the young and coerce older viewers to examine relationships. 'Josh & S.A.M' reveals to all that even if you have nothing, to have love is to have it all. A simple message for a difficult world.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Simply Bizarre.

7/10
Author: lawndale
5 October 1999

"Josh and SAM" is one of those films that is strangely humorous, in the sense that it really isn't supposed to be all that funny.

The premise-- that two pre-teens steal a car to run away from home (because the younger is actually a robot... or something to that effect) and then end up picking up Martha Plimpton, who refers to herself as "The Liberty Maid" or something-- is just so gloriously bizarre that you find yourself laughing without knowing why.

But the real clincher for this film's humor is that SAM, the technologically-enhanced younger boy, spends almost half of this film with a "feminine hygiene product" attached to his forehead b/c he couldn't find a real Band-Aid. If that isn't comedy, I'm not sure what is...

Rating: 7 out of 10. A prime example of absurdist film-making, although I'm not sure that was the purpose here. Regardless, it's brainless fun that demands a great deal of analysis-- so you'll understand WHY you're laughing at this movie, when you know that you shouldn't be.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Little known sensitive family film for all ages

10/10
Author: drpakmanrains from United States
28 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was one of the few adults who saw Josh and S.A.M. when it first appeared in 1993, attending with a friends 14 year old son. There were only 2 others in the audience, as few were attracted by the awkward marketing of the film. I worked with children in my career as a special ed therapist, and local newspaper reviews of Josh and S.A.M. were rather favorable, so I took a chance. Was I ever surprised! This was one of the best movies about children I had ever seen. While it was mildly funny here and there, it was mostly sad, but not in a bad way. The plot has been thoroughly reviewed by many others on this site, so I'll emphasize the merits of the film. The soundtrack was excellent, and the dialog between Jacob Tierney and Noah Fleiss was complex, but spoken believably throughout, often in a rather quiet manner, which would make younger children tend to tune out. Chris Penn was terrific in a small part playing a man who mistakenly thinks Josh may be his son from an old affair. Martha Plimpton does well as a runaway who resembles a picture on a juice carton that Josh called The Liberty Maid on a flight from Florida to Dallas, trying to convince Sam that she escorts child warriors to safety on an underground railroad. When their road adventure ends and Sam flies back from Canada, leaving Josh temporarily behind, the conversation between Sam and his dad, Steve Tobolowski, is extremely poignant. I admit I tear up rather easily in sentimental moments, but this caught me off guard, and I almost burst into tears. If this type of story appeals to you, male or female, young (over 10) or old or in between, do yourself a favor and buy a used VHS copy of Josh and S.A.M. (Strategically Altered Mutant) It's not what it sounds like. You won't be sorry. This movie really should be released on DVD. It deserves to be seen by a much larger audience.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Despite What the Critics Say, It's a Good Movie and I Like It!

10/10
Author: (robocoptng986127@aol.com) from U.S.A
19 January 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

[CONTAINS SPOILERS]

Josh and Sam Whitney live in California. Sam has trouble in school and Josh is a chronic liar. Their mom is dating a man named Jean-Pierre, whom Josh doesn't like. Josh and Sam fly to Florida to see their father, Thom. Thom's got two stepsons, Curtis and Leon, whom Sam takes sides with, because Sam doesn't like Josh anymore.

At dinner, Curtis and Leon insult Josh, Thom tells Josh to just clean his plate. Josh snaps and empties all his food off the plate and asks if it's clean enough. Thom tells Josh to go to his room, but Josh states he can't because Thom is in his "damn room"! Josh wants to get back at Sam for siding with Curtis and Leon, so he makes Sam believe he's a genetically engineered soldier, trained to fight in a war in Africa. Josh and Sam also get news that their mom will live in Europe with Jean-Pierre for a year, so they fly back to California to be with her until she leaves, but they have to land in Dallas because of a storm. At a hotel, Josh tries to escape but runs into a high school reunion party and fibs his way right into trouble. It results in Josh defending Sam by hitting their attacker with a pool stick.

Josh think he's a murderer. Josh then tries to tell Sam he made up everything about Sam being a Strategically Altered Mutant, but Sam wouldn't listen. They take the keys to their attacker's car and take off and get nowhere pretty quick. They go nowhere in particular, use a credit card copy to order a pizza, then they meet a runaway, Alison. She joins them on their trek to Canada. Sam doesn't believe either Alison or Josh, who try to convince him of the truth. Well, pretty soon, Alison leaves them and goes to Seattle. Josh and Sam go to Canada and Josh devises a plan to send Sam back to Florida where he finds out that Josh didn't really kill the guy. Josh soon returns and they live happily ever after. Like I said, this is a great movie. The ending leaves an opening for a sequel. Like it'll be called: Sam and J.O.S.H. You think? But you don't have to take my word for it, see this movie for yourself. You'll see what I mean.

--

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