Okay People Like Us, another new release this week, can be boiled down to a very simple story line: a son dealing with the death of his father and that he has a half- sister whom he needs to deliver a $150,000 inheritance to. If only it were that easy! But it isn’t and that is what makes this Alex Kurtzman film such a gem.
People Like Us stars Chris Pine (Star Trek and This Means War) as Sam, the slick salesman son who resists coming home for his own father’s funeral and Elizabeth Banks (most recently of Hunger Games) as the daughter/half-sister, Frankie, who is having a rough time of life. Michael Hall D’Addario provides an amazing performance as Frankie’s son, Josh. I’d like to go on record stating that we will see a lot more of Michael in the coming years. Michelle Pfeiffer shows that she can tackle being the mother/grandmother with as much finesse as she did the love interest in years past and Olivia Wilde, still known to me as Thirteen from the House tv series, rounds out the cast and fills in the cracks that the storyline forces the characters to cross.
Pine, however, stands out in this film as a surprise. He does an excellent job, as shown in his movie credits, of playing a self-absorbed ladies man. Pine brings this edginess to People Like Us making the audience a bit uncomfortable and unhappy with Sam for a good portion of the movie. That is the film’s secret weapon! It is the internal change in Pine’s character that takes what could have been a shallow feel-good movie and brings it into the realm of last year’s The Descendents.
While the movie includes the obligatory relationship confusion including the generic soap opera scene where half-sister makes a play for her unknown brother, the formula is balanced out by solid character development and surprising tidbits of music throughout the movie. It can be boiled down to this: don’t let the clichés keep you away from what is truly a heartwarming and well thought out film.
I’d also like to give a serious nod to the musical references. Diverse and eccentric. Probably meant to give insight into the deceased father who laid the foundation for the premise of the movie.
My suggestion: make it a date night. The kids won’t want to see it but you shouldn’t miss it.