A lonely, eccentric widow agrees to care for her rebellious 15-year-old niece who has been living in foster care for the past year but gets more than she bargained for when she discovers her niece is hiding a secret.
One of the positive things about this movie is that it encourages the adoption of children. In fact, a startling fact is shown on screen at the conclusion of the film: over one million couples try to adopt every year—and the number of children in foster care rises each year.
In this movie, Sam and Elvis, adapted from the play Dead Dogs Don’t Fart, a 15-year-old girl named Sam (short for Samantha), moves in with her only living relative, her aunt who is also named Samantha but goes by the name “Olina.” She is a different breed of person—she had her deceased dog named Elvis stuffed by a taxidermist. She talks to Elvis all the time and tells young Sam that she decided to keep Elvis instead of getting a new living dog, because, “Dead dogs don’t fart.” Young Sam has a bad attitude with a capital “A.” She talks back to Aunt Olina and doesn’t want to help around the house. But Aunt Olina is not the type to take any gruff, and she makes Sam tow the line and show respect. It takes a while, but the two begin to form a bond. And when Sam meets Olina’s friend and landlord, Larry, she begins to form a bond with him, too, which makes her feel like she finally belongs to a family.
The movie does a good job in presenting the difficult lot some people have inherited in life, showing us how Sam has one living family member, and that her father murdered her mother. When Sam shares a secret she was keeping—that she is pregnant—she finds more than one couple willing to adopt her daughter-to-be. She then has the difficult choice of deciding which couple to choose. She also learns a few secrets of Aunt Olina’s—that she, too, went through some very painful times in her life. She learns why children are very important to Aunt Olina.
The movie contains some twists, and we won’t spoil the ending. However, the film includes strong language, and a very rude Sam for a good part of the movie when she is quite disrespectful at times. It hasn’t merited our Dove Seal, but the theme of adoption is commendable. And Sally Daykin is very effective in playing Aunt Olina. All of the other actors are good as well.
The Dove Take
The content is strong due to the language, but the theme of adoption is an important one, especially considering today’s overcrowded foster care homes.