Josh and S.A.M.
|Josh and S.A.M.
Theatrical release poster
|November 24, 1993
Josh and S.A.M. is a 1993 American drama-comedy film revolving around two brothers who hate each other and the way they react to their parents' divorce. It stars Noah Fleiss, his film debut, along with Jacob Tierney, Martha Plimpton, and a young Jake Gyllenhaal. It was directed by Billy Weber and produced by Martin Brest.
The film is a road-trip themed dark comedy about two young brothers who run away from home due to emotional conflict over the divorce of their parents. Jacob Tierney plays older brother Josh who unintentionally brainwashes his younger brother Sam (Noah Fleiss) making him believe that he was a genetically designed child warrior. Josh says that Sam is actually an acronym, and that he is a "Strategically Altered Mutant" that was designed by the government to fight in a secret war in Africa. After a series of various suspicious coincidences in Josh's lies, Sam eventually believes that he is a S.A.M.
Josh says that he can be safely deactivated and turned back into a human if he reaches Canada. After a thunderstorm grounds their flight in Dallas forcing them to stay in hotel, Josh grows impatient with his mother and decides to abandon Sam and his life. Blocked at all exits by hotel officials, he heads into a high school reunion to seek refuge. He later lies that his mother was a graduate, and he finds Derek Baxter (Chris Penn), a drunken man claiming to be his father. Before Josh has time to clear his lie, Sam appears and, shortly thereafter, Derek drives them to their "grandparents'" house to tell the good news. Upon entering the house Derek overreacts to a picture of the real family and goes after Josh. After Sam hits him with a cueball, Josh reacts defensively and hits Derek on the head with a pool cue, supposedly killing him. In panic, the two brothers steal his rental car and begin their trek to Canada.
After a day of Josh and Sam driving they encounter Alison (Martha Plimpton), who is an older teen runaway from Hannibal, Missouri. They pick her up due to a resemblance to another lie of Josh's, the Liberty Maid. According to the Liberty Maid's description she aids fleeing S.A.M.s to Canada, in the similar way of Harriet Tubman. Alison travels with them as their driver and during the run develops a bond with Josh. After a run-in with a cop outside of Salt Lake City, Sam flees, causing a chase through the desert that nearly kills Sam as he crawls under a train. After Josh and Allison reach the car, they dash to the road to continue their journey.
During a night stop in a motel, Sam decides to leave Josh and Alison as he steals the car. Later that day, Josh and Alison part ways after she fails to convince him to live in Seattle with her. After a long walk, he discovers the car on the side of the road. Unfortunately, Sam is not there, but he discovers a bus stop nearby and rides it the rest of the way to Canada. On the bus, he sees Sam riding on the back of a semi-truck and, after he and Sam reunite, they walk across the border into Canada.
In Calgary, Canada, Josh tries several attempts to unbrainwash him back to normal. Among these, is a trip to a tanning booth, saying that will deactivate him. After that, Sam is sent back home to Orlando on a plane. Feeling unwanted at home and considering himself a fugitive, Josh stays behind. When Sam arrives in Orlando, he is picked up by his Dad Thom Whitney who give Sam a big hug and kiss. On the way home from the Airport, Thom says that Derek is alive and that Josh only knocked him out. Josh finds out to as he calls him at a Restaurant. Thom asks Sam where Josh is and Sam thinks that Thom didn't like Josh but he says "Of course I like Josh, I love Josh. He's my son". He also says that it's a cruel and mean world and that he wanted Josh to be tougher and stronger than he was so that he could be ready. The next morning, Josh arrives home in a taxi and has an emotional reunion with Sam. As they walk inside Sam tells Josh that he found a big file in his Dad's office... about Josh.
- Jacob Tierney as Joshua "Josh" Whitney.
- Noah Fleiss as Samuel "Sam"/"Killer Sam" Whitney.
- Stephen Tobolowsky as Thomas "Thom" Whitney
- Joan Allen as Caroline Whitney LaTourette
- Chris Penn as Derek Baxter
- Martha Plimpton as Alison (The Liberty Maid)
- Maury Chaykin as Pizza Man
- Udo Kier as Tanning Salon Manager
- Ronald Guttman as Jean-Pierre "J.P." LaTourette
- Ann Hearn as Teacher
- Anne Lange as Ellen Coleman
- Sean Baca as Curtis Coleman
- Jake Gyllenhaal as Leon Coleman
- Amy Wright as Waitress
The film premiered on November 24, 1993 at Planet Hollywood in New York City. Jacob Tierney, Noah Fleiss and their families attended the premiere but none of the other actors and none of the crew members attended the premiere.
- Josh and S.A.M. at the Internet Movie Database
- Josh and S.A.M. at AllMovie
- Josh and S.A.M. at Rotten Tomatoes
- Josh and S.A.M. at Box Office Mojo