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The Savages (2007)


Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 166
Fresh: 148
Rotten: 18

Critics 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.

Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 44
Fresh: 43
Rotten: 1

Critics 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.


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 134,716


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 … More

R (for some sexuality and language)
Drama , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Tamara Jenkins
In Theaters:
Apr 22, 2008
Box Office:
Fox Searchlight Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Savages

All Critics (174) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (148) | Rotten (18) | DVD (9)

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

A goo-free comedy.

Full Review… | January 18, 2008
Time Out New York
Top Critic

Powerful, painful and yet unerringly funny as it points out our emotional and physical vulnerabilities, this is a film that finds the humor in tragedy while keeping both omnipresent.

Full Review… | December 26, 2007
Detroit News
Top Critic

The Savages not only boasts Oscar-worthy performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney as a self-absorbed brother and sister, its attention to detail makes it sweetly funny and genuine.

Full Review… | December 26, 2007
Detroit Free Press
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

Exploring ground laid out many times before, The Savages is at times frustrating and at times emotional film that could have used a re-write.

Full Review… | September 30, 2008
Cinema Sight

Jenkins fans looking for the irreverent humor of Slums need not apply.

Full Review… | September 8, 2008

Having the talent of Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman isn't enough.

Full Review… | September 4, 2008
The Scorecard Review

It could have been shortened a bit, I didn't think the material was enough for almost two hours, but if you enjoy dramedy's like SIDEWAYS, give it a try.

Full Review… | August 22, 2008
Sin Magazine

Tamara Jenkins's film tackles the difficult subject of facing up to an ageing parent's mental and physical demise with overt sensitivity but no punches are spared.

Full Review… | July 18, 2008
Urban Cinefile

This film is immensely rewarding and in its own way exceptionally beautiful.

Full Review… | July 18, 2008
At the Movies (Australia)

Oddly being marketed as a comedy by its distributor, The Savages is best approached as a drama with an intermittently light touch that's generally more of a curse than a boon.

Full Review… | June 9, 2008
Paste Magazine

A wonderful black comedy that has gotten a tad lost in the recent sea of excellent indie pictures.

Full Review… | May 22, 2008
Windy City Times

While writer-director Tamara Jenkins (Slums of Beverly Hills) lets things get a little mushy towards the end, the film brilliantly portrays a difficult family moment made even more complicated by her characters' overweening narcissism.

Full Review… | May 1, 2008

The Savages proves there's a rich vein of humor to be mined from the darkest of themes.

Full Review… | April 22, 2008
Washington Times

Hoffman and Linney bring a credible blend of ease and exasperation to the sibling relations, which show concern and competition in roughly equal measure. [DVD]

April 21, 2008
Groucho Reviews

There really doesn't seem to be much of a bright side about a brother and sister who are faced with putting their father in a nursing home, but Jenkins manages to mine humor and heart out of the bleak circumstances.

Full Review… | March 17, 2008

The Savages is the sort of film that, while ringing with laudable authenticity and an admirable lack of maudlin sentimentality, prefers wallowing in misery to reaching for transformation.

Full Review… | February 28, 2008
Colorado Springs Gazette

Call me hokey if you want. I just would have liked more heart in there somewhere. But the acting is superb and it's worth seeing just for that. By no means watch this over the holidays but pursue its scholarly merit on safe ground.

Full Review… | February 16, 2008

Most of all about recovering, about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and plugging on. It also just happens to be, in its small, astutely observed, delicately bittersweet way, one of the best films of the year.

Full Review… | February 8, 2008
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

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

Wow, finally got around to seeing this (after years of the dvd collecting dust on my shelf). A superb family drama ripe with the perfect blend of drama, comedy, and sadness. Some of the best work in both the careers of Linney and Hoffman.

Michael S

Super Reviewer

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