The Savages


The Savages

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.



Total Count: 167


Audience Score

User Ratings: 135,310
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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.

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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
Sandra Daley
as Attendant
Sandy 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 Pillow
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. 2
Debbie Fuhrman
as Physical Therapist
Lili Liu
as Manicurist #2
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News & Interviews for The Savages

Critic Reviews for The Savages

All Critics (167) | Top Critics (45)

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

    Sep 22, 2008 | Full Review…
  • It's billed as a comedy. You may or may not find much to laugh at.

    Feb 7, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 29, 2008 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…
  • Jenkins's solemn comedy may be 389 jokes short of a Woody Allen classic, but there is a tenderness about these flawed heroes that is profoundly touching.

    Jan 24, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • It's just a shame the script doesn't push the humour further; brief, amusing put-downs aren't quite enough to make this a bonafide comedy. But if you're looking for a well-performed drama about dementia, you've got it.

    Jan 1, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Anna Smith
    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.

    Dec 26, 2007 | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Savages

  • Jun 16, 2016
    Heartbreaking. A real film.
    _kelly . Super Reviewer
  • Jan 10, 2012
    Good movie with a nice balance of humor and drama. Linney and Hoffman put in strong performances and have a good chemistry. It begs the question, who going to look after you when you get old? Scary.
    Jonny C Super Reviewer
  • Jun 27, 2011
    Even with a father with dementia, I could not connect with the story or the characters.
    Thomas J Super Reviewer
  • Apr 10, 2011
    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 W Super Reviewer

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