Director: Alex Kurtzman
Writers: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jody Lambert
Cast: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jon Favreau, Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass
Studio: DreamWorks/Touchstone

“People Like Us” opens on Sam, a slick, 31-year-old huckster of a salesman in the bartering business. Just as he gets snagged by a bad deal that costs him the huge bonus he just secured to pay off long-standing debts, Sam finds out his father, Jerry Harper, a legendary Laurel Canyon record producer, has died, which means he needs to come home to LA for the funeral against his will. Reuniting with his estranged mother Lillian becomes challenging enough, but Sam also discovers that his father left him $150,000 in his shaving kit.

The catch is that it comes with instructions to deliver the cash to an 11-year-old named Josh, who happens to be the son of Frankie, a half- sister he didn’t know he had. Tempted to keep the cash himself, Sam finds Frankie and follows her to an AA meeting where she shares the sudden news of her father’s death and the hurtful anger she feels for not being publicly acknowledged as his daughter.

Seeing how Mark meets Frankie and her son sets off a few doubts about how the direction and intention of the film. It just looks too much like a set up, and this is exactly where the film proves us wrong. There is depth to the dialog and much careful attention given to the direction and acting, in particular, Banks’ range is amazing, as her character grows in several ways in front of our eyes: Her background slowly unfolds in front of us, revealing the origin of her flaws, her pain, her inability to find peace, until Sam comes into to show her there were pieces missing in her family picture, too.

Rather than showing tearful scenes of betrayal, passionate rain soaked kissing montages, or tearful exchanges of cheesy, over-dramatic dialog, this movie chooses a more casual realistic approach; just like life. Each character had to face their problems in their own way, and use various methods and tools to help them recognize and resolve their issues. While this realistic approach made the movie drag in places, it added a bridge to help bring one into the movie. The ending in particular finished strong and providing closure for the characters that one may or may not appreciate since you have to pay attention to the dialog rather than having it handed to you. It’s truly one of the smartest films of the year.

RELEASE DATE: 06/29/2012


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