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Dustin and Sissy help Sam and Kate

Despite using the names Sam and Kate as a title, the movie’s two younger characters step aside for the project’s real appeal, the teaming of screen legends Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek. Of course, things can always go wrong when pairing big names, though at minimum, these two guarantee a bragging point of good acting. But more shows up in Sam and Kate, a good-hearted piece about parents and their adult children working through unstable lives. Given their star stature, Hoffman and Spacek could demand renaming the project for their characters, Bill and Tina, who meet at a church function and share many of aging’s frustrations including depending on what often feels like intrusions from quote “the kids.” Emotionally stymied enough to qualify as kids, the millennials fumble through a shaky world that forces them into semi-parental roles. Writer director Darren le Gallo inserts romance with touches of comedy but nods to realistic challenges in a story that feels gentle and warm—mild adjectives for moods that suit audiences avoiding a depressing leap down an unending dark rabbit hole. Played by Jake Hoffman and Schuyler Fisk, title characters Sam and Kate show off good hearts as they move comfortably on screen with those famous supporting players—but that ease comes from a logical cause. Jake’s last name Hoffman provides an obvious clue. As for Schuler, those who follow Spacek’s career know about her nearly 50-year marriage to production designer Jack Fisk. Parents and kids working together adds to an overall sense of niceness that suffuses Sam and Kate as its characters sort through challenges many people face in an ordinary world.

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