Starring Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Hall D’Addario, and Michelle Pfeiffer
Directed by Alex Kurtzman
The first thing I noticed when I saw the trailer for “People Like Us” was the amazing chemistry between Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks, which would be great if this was a rom-com, but it isn’t. This is a film about siblings – a brother and a sister, only she doesn’t know they are related.
Now that I have seen the film, I’m sorry to tell you that this ick factor apparently wasn’t unintentional- seems the entire plot hinges on Sam (Chris Pine) not revealing to Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) that he is her half-brother. Instead we spend fully half the movie in standard rom-com mode with Sam meeting and charming not only Frankie, but her young son Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario) too.
The film is written by director Alex Kurtzman and writing partner Roberto Orci – better known for their work on Transformers, Cowboys vs. Aliens, and the Star Trek reboot. The plot was apparently inspired by events in their own lives, and they don’t do too badly with the emotional authenticity. The main problem lies in the plotting and what appear to be two entirely different films mashed into one narrative.
Sam is a slick “barter” salesman whose wheeling and dealings have taken a wrong turn with the loss of a shipment of boxed soup whose cheap transportation arrangements did not include refrigeration. With a boss expecting him to make up for the financial loss by buying the client a new house extension and the FDA investigating, Sam gets a call from his Mother (Michelle Pfeiffer is playing older mom’s now!!!) – his father has died. When Sam finally shows up after the funeral, he finds out that his cold distant music producer father has left him his vinyl collection, and entrusted him with a shaving kit full of money for a sister he didn’t know he had.
It would appear that Kurtzman and Orci felt the film would be over if Sam revealed his relationship to recovering alcoholic Frankie. So instead he leads her on. As you do. Our writers clearly couldn’t imagine any other ways that this film could play out, and that is the real shame here. This could have been a Cameron Crow film about a son coming to terms with his family dynamics, or it could have been a really good rom-com. Instead it is overlong, with a maternal subplot suddenly tacked on at the end, shifting the tone and focus of the story and needlessly dragging the ending on.
BTW Olivia Wilde is in this film, not that you would know it from the marketing. A sign of how fast her star has fallen in just one year.