Josh and S.A.M. (1993) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
15 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
This is actually a brilliant film.
alistair_deacon-111 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.
19 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Quirky runaway adventure
cosmic_quest21 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.
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
hilarious, realistic, suspenseful, and poignant
ibphred30 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.
7 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
JOSH AND SAM is wonderful.
Saiyan-24 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.
10 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Little known sensitive family film for all ages
drpakmanrains28 April 2010
Warning: 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.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
True to life
miimiic6 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.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
long ago ...
laelius15 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!
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Interesting (*Potential Spoilers*)
Bourque7724 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
*Potential Spoilers*

I first saw this movie 10 years ago and didn't pay much attention to it at first and I came across it 8 years later in a bargain bin. I tell you it is a very good unknown movie, I know that it does have a few questions about the two boys going AWOL but it was quite hilarious in some scenes. Like who would have thought that they would steal a car and take a lot of money out of ATM machines and smuggle themselves in another country, but the scene where Sam wears a Kotex pad across his head cause Josh could not find band-aids is a classic moment in this movie, it sucks that this movie is real forgettable despite the presences of Joan Allen as the stuck up mom, Steve Toblowsky as the father and Chris Penn as the drunk man who's rental car the boys steal. Like i said it's a good movie to watch and i recommend anybody who comes across it to buy it, it's worth it 8 out of 10 on my scale
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Biased review
rllinlacs26 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This was my favorite movie growing up. The fantasy of being free from parents and the fantasy of being able to drive are what drew me to it. This movie made the red Pontiac Grand Prix an icon for me. Every time I see one, I think of this movie, still to this day. I've recently re-watched it as an adult after not seeing it for a good 18 years, and realized I never understood the plot. After seeing it as an adult, it's still a great movie. The plot is original and for the most part, believable, although the scene where Josh convinces the guy that he's his long lost son, you'd have to be real naive to believe him, but I guess on the believable side, he was drunk, and the character did seem pretty naive. Another scene on the unbelievable side is the scene with the cop, when Josh & Sam are sitting on the picnic bench having lunch with the Liberty Maid, and the cop asks to see her ID for no reason, very illegal and very unlikely to happen. I grew a distaste to Josh for what really is brainwashing his little brother and putting him in such a dangerous situation for what seemingly is for selfish reasons. Josh is really a sociopathic liar who repeatedly gets caught in his lies and uses more lies to cover his tracks. As an adult, I really don't like Josh, and I don't feel sorry for him. As a kid, you really don't notice it. Anyways, good movie, wish it weren't so rare and unknown.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Be a good "S.A.M."aritan.
lee_eisenberg24 August 2006
"Josh and S.A.M." is one of those movies that probably most appeals to the pre-teen crowd, but it's still kind of a neat story. Portraying two brothers (Jacob Tierney and Noah Fleiss) going on a most unusual voyage of self-discovery, they know how to play everything here. It was really neat how the woman (Martha Plimpton) went along with the whole Liberty Maid thing.

All in all, I wouldn't be surprised if this movie one day inspires some youngsters to attempt what it portrays. Maybe it's not a masterpiece, but still an interesting look at life. Also starring Stephen Tobolowsky, Joan Allen, Chris Penn, Maury Chaykin, and a young Jake Gyllenhaal.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A little fun movie
Rodrigo_Amaro29 January 2013
This sort of "Thelma & Louise" for kids might be fun if you're a kid, since most of them get easily impressed with anything. Doesn't make much of an effort on grown ups but it has its charm, its fun moments and its few acceptable original ideas. I saw it as a fun version of "Radio Flyer" but without achieving its magic and realism.

"Josh and S.A.M." tells the story of two runaway brothers Josh (Jacob Tierney) and Sam (Noah Fleiss) escaping from their problems at home, living with their dad (Stephen Tobolowsky), recently separated of his wife (Joan Allen) who is about to marry her French boyfriend (Roland Guttman). Josh and Sam don't have much of a fun living with dad since he has two other kids from his current marriage, and they're terrorizing bullies to their "new brothers". The story gets twisted, entering like a dramatic adventure when Josh says to his brother that he was genetically modified by his father as a Pentagon developed experiment to be used in wars (that's why S.A.M. in the title), so they're route to freedom ends up being than just mere running away from house problems but also because Sam can be found by the manufacturers and sent to a conflict in Africa. During their journey they make up stories, think they killed a man (Chris Penn) after an incident, and join forces with a girl (Martha Plimpton) of whom Sam thinks she's the 'Liberty Maid', a helpful source who gather people like Sam to hide underground (another story made up by Josh).

Often dry in its humor and lacking of energy in its agitated sequences, the movie is a little dreadful, very tiring and always turning to places and situations we don't feel too much enjoyed with. And if it works for the most part it's because of Tierney/Josh smartness and creative ways to save the day while Sam keeps being one of the most annoying kids ever presented on screen with a pretentious, imaginative and unexplained intelligence, trying to be the brightest kid on Earth. It's very believable that an older brother would fake stories to involve his younger brother into something but the opposite while wanting to be wiser than wisdom itself, just doesn't work. This isn't a statement about kids not being smart or intelligent, it's just that the movie presents them with unconvincing dialogs and quotes, strangely unsuitable for a child, and if we can't believe in the story, if we can't buy its idea then the movie has failed. With your belief suspended, this even manages to be fun here and there.

Yes, it's a problematic plot but the film rises above some of its obstacles (even if it has to drag the viewers through strange moments). Worths a view due to the cast reunion, most of them are enjoyable in their roles - special part of this, Jake Gyllenhaal plays quite an ironic role, if taken into consideration some of his future roles, so pay attention to him, specially at the dinner scene. A little special, a little cute and fun for a Sunday afternoon. 6/10
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Predictable, but, watchable coming of age story about 2 brothers messed around by their parents
fergusg10 November 2005
This is a light-hearted coming of age story that manages to succinctly weave the dark undercurrents of bad parenting into the mini-adventure. Centered around 2 siblings, Josh & Sam is a very charming and watchable family film peppered with some good, funny moments, that should raise a chuckle or two.

Constantly being shipped from back and forth, between their divorced parents, takes it's toll on Josh and Sam and eventually reaches breaking point when their mum decides to marry and live in France for a year with a French guy. Leaving them with no option but living with their father and his new family. For Simpson fans, their fathers character bears an uncanny resemblance to Ned Flanders without the moustache. You're just waiting for him to say okily-dokily.

The older of the two siblings invents an outlandish story and persuades his younger brother, whose character was brilliantly delivered by Noah Fleiss, to go on the run together heading for the "sanctuary" of Canada to avoid been sent to Africa as a child warrior. Of course the younger Sam swallows the story hook, line and sinker and off they go meeting up with the, exceedingly delicious Libert Maid, Alison (Martha Plimpton) along the way.

Josh & Sam reminds me of the Irish movie called "Into the West" which managed to weave some old Irish myths and legends into the story. Both are charming and both are watchable. Both are not the sort of films that I would pick out of a a rental store shelf, but, if you stumble across them on TV both have great child acting performances. Both Tierney and Fleiss carry this with a little help from Martha Plimpton.
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Boys will be boys...and fun being on the lam.
michaelRokeefe7 June 2003
Josh(Jacob Tierney)and Sam(Noah Fleiss)are brothers upset with the news of their parents splitting. They cope with taking off on the road and meeting up with the affable Martha Plimpton. This movie is scattered with comedic situations, but not enough to make for a memorable movie. Also in the cast are: Stephen Tobolowsky, Joan Allen and Chris Penn.
1 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed