29 January 2013 | Rodrigo_Amaro
A little fun movie
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