The Savages (2007) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Savages (2007)



Critic Consensus: Thanks to a tender, funny script from director Tamara Jenkins, and fine performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney, this film delivers a nuanced, beautifully three-dimensional look at the struggles and comforts of family bonds.

Movie Info

The last thing the two Savage siblings ever wanted to do was look back on their undeniably dysfunctional family legacy. Wendy is a self-medicating struggling East Village playwright, AKA a temp who spends her days applying for grants and stealing office supplies, dating her very married neighbor. Jon is an obsessive compulsive college professor writing obscure books on even more obscure subjects in Buffalo who still can't commit to his girlfriend after four years even though her cooking brings him tears of joy. Then, out of the blue, comes the call that changes everything. They're told that the father they have long feared and avoided, Lenny Savage, has lost his marbles. And, there is no one to help him but his kids. Now, as they put the middle of their already arrested lives on hold, Wendy and Jon must live together under one roof for the first time since childhood, soon rediscovering the eccentricities that drove each other crazy. Faced with complete upheaval and the ultimate sibling rivalry battle over how to handle their father's final days, they are forced to face the past and finally start to realize what adulthood, family and, most surprisingly, each other are really about.more
Rating: R (for some sexuality and language)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Tamara Jenkins
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 22, 2008
Box Office: $6.4M
Fox Searchlight Pictures - Official Site


Laura Linney
as Wendy Savage
Philip Bosco
as Lenny Savage
David Zayas
as Eduardo
Tonye Patano
as Ms. Robinson
Guy Boyd
as Bill Lachman
Debra Monk
as Nancy Lachman
Rosemary Murphy
as Doris Metzger
Joan Jaffe
as Lizzie
Laura Palmer
as Real Estate Agent
Salem Ludwig
as Mr. Sperry
Sandy Daley
as Attendant
Sandra Daley
as Attendant
Jennifer Lim
as Manicurist
Cynthia Darlow
as Nurse No. 2
Carmen Roman
as Administrator
Nancy Lenehan
as Counselor
Michael Higgins
as Resident No. 1
Madeline Lee
as Resident No. 2
Tijuana Ricks
as Valley View Nurse
Erica Berg
as Woman in Parking Lot
Patti Karr
as Woman With Red Pillo...
Johnny Bolton
as Father in Mall Lot
John Bolton
as Father in Mall Lot
Zoe Kazan
as Student
Tobin Tyler
as Valley View Nurse No...
Debbie Fuhrman
as Physical Therapist
Lili Liu
as Manicurist #2
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Savages

Critic Reviews for The Savages

All Critics (173) | Top Critics (48)

Linney and Hoffman are both terrific, and Jenkins's script is pointed and perceptive, but the film's arc is a little flat.

Full Review… | September 22, 2008
The New Republic
Top Critic

It's billed as a comedy. You may or may not find much to laugh at.

Full Review… | February 7, 2008
Top Critic

Jenkins' brushstrokes of her characters are too exacting to move us more than a lifelike painting of a basket of fruit. We can be awed at the techniques, but walk away empty.

Full Review… | January 29, 2008
I.E. Weekly
Top Critic

We could say that The Savages is a social-problem drama about senile dementia and nursing homes, but that's a little like saying The 400 Blows is about school truancy.

Full Review… | April 28, 2011
East Bay Express

One rummages vainly through tics in search of genuine emotion

Full Review… | August 27, 2009

The Savages is a labored labor of love about an estranged brother and sister, who have to deal with a frail and fractious father.

Full Review… | February 2, 2009
Fayetteville Free Weekly

Audience Reviews for The Savages


Sometimes dysfunctional families make us laugh, or even cry. This one could cause a slight depression. When the Savage siblings have to deal with their father in the beginning stages of dementia and see each other more often than they are comfortable with. Considering the names in the leading roles it's not very surprising that the acting is top notch. There are also a few very amusing parts, mostly the kind of humor that makes you feel ashamed for other's actions. But to the honest, the rest of the film is a little too bleak and depressing to really warrant a second look. The final frame redeems some of that impression, but overall I wondered what the creators were trying to tell us. Life is uncomfortable and then you die?

Jens S.

Super Reviewer


Even with a father with dementia, I could not connect with the story or the characters.

Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer


Having not experienced any of director Tamara Jenkins' films before, I went into this film expecting something along the lines of "Little Miss Sunshine" in it's supposedly humourous take on a dysfunctional family. That's not what I got but there was still plenty to enjoy from the emotionally impaired characters.
As their estranged father Lenny Savage (Philip Bosco) sinks into senility in an Arizona retirement village, Wendy (Laura Linney) and Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are forced to figure out how to care for the dad who never cared for them.
This is not a comedy as some of the critics would have you believe. Yes, there are moments of comedy but no more than the humour that accompanies life and it's irony. This is a heartfelt drama, dealing with the painful responsibility that families face in our modern day, injected with humour and pathos and wonderfully acted by Linney and Hoffman - who are two of the best in the business. The relationship between the siblings is entirely believable. There is not a lot of communication between them but what's not said, is just as important. There's also not a lot going on in these peoples lives. They seem to think so but we are able to sit back and observe the avoidance they are trying to make. It also never fully discloses why the two of them have such contempt for their ailing father. It's hinted that he never had much time for them but as the film draws to a close and Wendy's creative writing and aspiration to be a successful playwright comes to fruition, a bit more is revealed as she uses her experiences as inspiration for her writing.
A good family drama, dealing with the stuggles that are becoming ever more present in our current times, helped by subtle and very real performances. If you have the patience to invest, you'll be rewarded.

Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

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