‘People Like Us’ is a good mix of drama with a sprinkle of comedy and sweetness, a perfect dose of entertainment. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film since it seems to have a pretty clear plot, but fortunately thanks to all the different personalities it is anything but predictable. At times the film gets dangerously corny, but as Alex Kurtzman’s directorial debut it is a refreshing film about life choices and family, which teaches us all a lesson.
When Jerry Harper a record producer and Sam’s (Chris Pine) estranged father passes away, he reluctantly flies to Los Angeles with Hannah (Olivia Wilde) his girlfriend, to attend his funeral and settle his state. At home we get pieces of what his childhood was like, as his mother, Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) doesn’t seem very nurturing. To his surprise his father left him the task of contacting a half sister he didn’t know existed, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) to deliver an enraging amount of money to her. While contemplating what to do with the money, Sam scouts out his half sister and gets a peek into her complicated life as the single mother of Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario) and unexpectedly gets drawn into their lives.
The best part of this movie is D’Addario, the kid is hilarious because not only does he act like an adult since he has to take care of himself, but he’s too smart for his own good. Banks doesn’t stay too far behind as we see where the kid gets it from, she also has a smart mouth, is strong and sexy all at the same time. Pine’s character is the darker, mysterious one and he plays the roll well. Wilde although doesn’t have a lot of screen time, serves her role as Pine’s conscience perfectly. Finally Pfeiffer, rounds out the parent role, as obviously the missing parent is talked about a lot and becomes a presence in the film, but she’s one of the characters that can bring him to life the most.
The movie’s fuel is the tension between the siblings and although it is beyond frustrating, it works, because that’s exactly what keeps you interested and cringing at the same time. The movie weaves in music with funny and dramatic moments masterfully. Slowly without noticing you come to care for this characters and even when it starts to get corny you still want to know how the story ends. The key to the story is that we see how someone’s actions (the deceased father’s) affected the lives of many people, even the ones that didn’t know him. The movie is loosely based on the director’s real life and this isn’t a story that is hard to believe; it’s pretty down to earth without being dull.
Pine delivers some worthy life lessons, but most of all the film let’s us know that there’s usually more to the actions of others than we know. As children we are quick to judge our parents and react on it as adults, here we explore how the options of running away or sticking around pan out. In the mist of summer movies this is a heartfelt hidden drama in between all the action and comedy ones that will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling.