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Dan's DVD/Blu-ray Review: People Like Us

A nice family drama from an unlikely group of filmmakers.
People Like Us (Dreamworks)

Rated PG-13 for language, some drug use and brief sexuality.

Starring Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Hall D'Addario, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Sara Mornell, Philip Baker Hall, Jon Favreau.

Written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jody Lambert.

Directed by Alex Kurtzman.

GRADE: B+

DVD/Blu-ray REVIEW:


When it comes to summer movies, you usually expect your garden variety action films, comedies, and the occasional crime drama, but it's not very often you get a serious family drama in the heat of June. Additionally, you might not expect such touchy-feely films from the likes of the people who brought you LOST, Star Trek and Cowboys and Aliens. Such was the case for People Like Us, the story the family a man never knew he had.

Chris Pine stars as Sam, a New York commodities bartering dealer with a lack of ethics. At the very moment when his business dealings have him in trouble with his boss (Jon Favreau) and the Feds, news arrives via his girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde) that his estranged father has died in California. After avoiding to the funeral, Sam takes Hannah to California to be with his mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer).

While there, Sam learns that his father, a successful music producer had saved up $150,000 in a leather shaving kit bag and left his son with the task of giving the cash to a poor single mother and her son who live nearby. Sam struggles over whether he should give Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) and her son Josh (Michael Hall D'Addario) the money - or keep it to himself to solve his financial problems. His pause causes a strain in his relationship with Hannah, who returns to New York in disgust.

It turns out that Frankie is a sister he never knew had, born of a secret relationship between his dad and a mistress. Josh is his nephew.

While debating over what to do with the money, Sam meets Frankie and Josh, and a relationship grows, even though he keeps his identity secret. As the ruse continues, Sam gains stronger feelings for his new family, which becomes more complicated by his mother's failing health and the necessity to come clean.

People Like Us is a refreshing family drama with plenty of emotional magnetism. Pine's performance as a selfish man who learns to love the family he never knew is more than adequate, while Elizabeth banks shines as the troubled struggling single mother. Michael Hall D'Addario provides good performance as the troubled Josh. A top-notch script From Director Alex Kurtzman and co-writers Robert Orci and Jody Lambert helps hide what would be an otherwise slow-moving story.

An opening disclaimer states that People Like Us was "Inspired by True Events," and those events are tied to Orci, who, in reality discovered as an adult that he had a sister he never met. That's about all there is in common with the plot of People Like us, since most of the movie strays from Orci's real-life experience. It's no matter, since the ending of People Like Us is high on emotion that most will enjoy - even if it's a little sappy.

DVD/Blu-ray Extras:

The video release of People Like Us has nothing special, with the possible exception of a short documentary Number One With a Bullet: The Story Behind People Like Us, which explores some of Orci's real-life inspiration for the film and how the movie came together.

There's also the standard audio commentary tracks with Kurtzman, Pine and Banks,  another from Kurtsman and Pfeiffer and another with Kurtzman, Orci and Lambert.

The People Like Us DVD/Blu-ray also contains an extended scene at a taco stand between Sam and Fankie, along with a blooper reel and deleted scenes.


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