People Like Us (Alex Kurtzman, 2012): USA

Reviewed by Byron Potau. Viewed at the Regal Cinemas as part of the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival.

People Like Us

People Like Us, in short, is about a bunch of people who make life much harder for themselves than it needs to be. The film claims to be based on true events which seems believable since only real people are this frustrating.

Sam (Chris Pine) is a hotshot salesman whose latest screw up broke some important health regulations and may cost him his job. When his record producer father dies he reluctantly heads back home only to find that his father left him $150,000 in a shaving bag with instructions on whom to give it to. After a little investigation, Sam learns that it is supposed to go to his nephew, Josh (Michael Hall D”Addario), from the sister, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) he never knew he had. Sam strikes up a friendship with Frankie and Josh, but he can’t seem to bring himself to tell her he is her brother.

The film has a nice twist in the very end, but along the way has far too many special moments between characters when they suddenly feel what they’ve been waiting to feel, find what they’ve searching for, or hear what they’ve long needed to hear and everything is alright again.

Scenes like Sam’s return home for his father’s funeral where his mother (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) greets him with a slap across the face seems phony and theatrical. She couldn’t at least say hello first?

Then there is the film’s driving force, Sam and Frankie are brother and sister. You can understand some hesitance on Sam’s part to tell her but after awhile it’s just frustrating as he drags it on for far too long complicating things unnecessarily.

Similarly, Sam’s mom has some illness that she won’t go to the hospital for and it takes a special moment between her and Sam for her to go and everything seems wonderful after that. And Sam’s legal difficulties with a mistake he made on his job which violated some health codes is an annoying side story because it grows increasingly complicated when Sam repeatedly won’t deal with it.

Elizabeth Banks does what she can with her character, but it’s not enough to save this film from too many maudlin moments with this family that needs someone to hold their hand just to get the simplest things done.

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