The Savages, penned by Slums of Beverly Hills writer Tamara Jenkins, is the classic Peter Pan story turned on its head. Jon and Wendy Darling are replaced by the Savage siblings, who while in their 40s, can’t seem to grow up. While the protagonist doesn’t come flying in through the bedroom window, their absentee father comes back into their lives just as abruptly after he is kicked out of his Arizona retirement community suffering from dementia.
Instead of taking the pair off to Never Land, Lenny Savage introduces Jon, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Wendy, played by the fantastic Laura Linney, to the places at the end of the road. Hoffman and Linney are completely believable as brother and sister as they argue over nursing homes and what to do with the irascible Lenny.
Long-buried sibling rivalries come bubbling up to the surface coming to a head when Jon asks Wendy to cover for him so he can finish his book on Bertolt Brecht. She tries to one-up her older brother by lying about getting a Guggenheim fellowship, only making things worse when he finds out the truth.
Jenkins avoids the feel-good Hollywood ending, so just go into it knowing that The Savages is a pretty realistic look at family, growing old, and the ties that bind. It’s brutal at times, funny at times, and then everything goes to hell.
Just like life.