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People Like Us

People Like Us

Released 9 November 2012
Director Alex Kurtzman

Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde, Michael Hall D'Addario, Philip Baker Hall, Mark Duplass

Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jody Lambert

Roberto Orci, Bobby Cohen, Clayton Townsend
Origin United States
Running Time 114 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating 12A

Family trouble.

I must say I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Banks. Not only is she eye-catchingly beautiful but she is a darn good actress as well – quite frequently raising the level of a mediocre film a notch or two with the integrity and genuineness she sprinkles on her range of characters. While she has been in big successful movies, it has often been in a supplementary role and it is indeed surprising to me that she hasn't yet broken out of this mould. Surely it is only a matter of time because while not a standout movie, Banks' individual performance in drama-comedy People Like Us was again the highlight of the show.

After businessman Sam's latest deal collapses, he arrives home to find out from his girlfriend that his father has suddenly died. Having not had a close or altogether loving relationship with him, Sam, an only son, has little interest in his death before discovering from his will that his dad had kept a shocking secret, and that Sam actually had a sister named Frankie (Banks) and a nephew he never knew about. Struggling with how to deal with the information, and the money left aside for his sibling's child, Sam riskily gets to know them without revealing his true identity as he attempts to unearth the truth behind his father's reclusive lifestyle while he was growing up.

A quick read of the synopsis and I'm sure a lot will immediately be readying themselves for finger-down-the-throat material but I can assure you that this motion picture is, for the most part, very well written and exceptionally executed by its cast. Unfortunately, as it tries to draw in a bigger audience there are certain moments that feel systematically melodramatic – which does have the tendency to grate a little on the old nerves. In truth, there was no real necessity for that because the subject matter is dramatic enough in itself.

The cast evidently do their best to save as much of the story as they can with authentic chemistry. Banks is amazing as the single mother trying all she can to raise a child hell-bent on causing havoc while Michelle Pfeiffer pops up as a very believable mother to Sam who is at pain with both the loss of her husband and the fact she made him choose between one family and another. Chris Pine in the lead role is solid, but admittedly there were occasions I was wondering why Spock wasn't by his shoulder, explaining the entire facade to him logically.

While it is a tad on the long side, which again brings us back to the unnecessary overuse of soap opera, the ending to People Like Us is a suitable pay-off and one that should make the overall viewing more than worthwhile.

- David Caulfield