After his father dies, Sam (Chris Pine) returns home to Los Angeles with his girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde). After briefly spending time with his mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer), he learns from the family lawyer that he has a half-sister, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), he never knew about. On top of that, his dad wanted him to give her child Josh (Michael Hall D'Addario) a bag full of cash to make up for his shortcoming as a father and grandfather, leaving the typically selfish fast-talking salesmen in a bit of a bind as he could really use the money for himself.
Hereís what I wrote about this film back in June:
ďBased on a true story, People Like Us works a heck of a lot better than I thought it would. Directed by Star Trek and Transformers script Alex Kurtzman, co-written by his frequent partner Robert Orci and new to the triumvirate Jody Lambert, the movie is far more restrained and emotionally honest that I expected it to be going in. By and large, Kurtzman allows things to play themselves out with relative simplicity. He doesnít pull on the heartstrings near as much as his prior scripted works would lead you to initially believe, leaving the saccharine music strains and the clichť tears pretty much alone.
At the same time, it isnít like this movie isnít doing anything I havenít seen twenty-six thousand times before. The scenario playing out is as Douglas Sirk meets Frank Capra as any to be splashed across the celluloid this year. Will Sam find a way to forgive the ghost of his dead father? Will he be made a better person by coming into contact with Frankie and Josh? Can his relationship with both his estranged mother and his frustrated girlfriend be salvaged? Itís not like the outcome to any of these queries and others arenít preordained, so there isnít a ton of shock and/or awe to be found in watching them to play out exactly as expected.
Pine is good here, however, showing thereís more to him than the cocksure hero on display in Star Trek, Unstoppable and This Means War. He mines some depths, has some great moments with both Pfeiffer and D'Addario and shows a surprising amount of insecurity as he plays moderately against type. At the same time, he does overdue it during some sequences, and I never did quite fully feel he ever disappeared entirely into the role, making some of his moments a bit more insincere than they might have been otherwise.
The same cannot be said for Banks. Flat-out, this is potentially the best Iíve ever seen her in a film. Sheís borderline incredible, and every time the movie stopped to focus on her the whole thing elevated up one or two additional notches. She never does quite what I expected, didnít go for the easy emotion, showing layers of complexity the script obviously alludes to but never actually makes clear. Even when events force her into predictable corners the way she deals with them almost always feels fresh and believable, most of the stuff revolving around her and her relationship with Josh bursting with an authenticity the rest oftentimes lacks.
Kurtzman could be a good director. I like the fact he knows when to say when, has an idea of when to pull back and allow the actors or the events their embroiled within speak for themselves. But, at the same time, much like the majority of the scripts heís compiled with Orci there is a disheveled raggedness to the proceedings that only gets more noticeable as things progress. By the time the climactic events roll around there isnít a lot of intricacy to them, most of the narrative delivered with a matter-of-fact simplicity that belies belief.
Still, I found plenty to enjoy about People Like Us. I was never bored, and the central story emotionally resonated. More than that, Banks is incredible, her performance the anchor around which all else revolves. The movie is fluff, and sure as heck it doesnít think even close to outside of the box, but by the time it was over I was still crying delicate tears all the same, the human story at the core a cozy triumph I have no problem celebrating.Ē
I actually liked this movie even more the second time around. It just flat-out works, hitting the majority of its dramatic beats satisfactorily before building to a rather rousing and satisfying conclusion that couldnít help but make me smile. People Like Us deserves discovery, and now that itís available for home consumption it is my hope it will find it.
People Like Us is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.35:1/1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack along with French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and comes with optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
∑ Audio Commentary with writer/director Alex Kurtzman and stars Elizabeth Banks and Chris Pine
∑ Audio Commentary with Kurtzman and co-writer/co-producer Jody Lambert
∑ Scene-Specific Audio Commentary with Kurtzman and star Michelle Pfeiffer
∑ Number One with a Bullet: The Story of People Like Us (14:28)
∑ Taco Talk (4:51)
∑ Deleted and Extended Scenes (18:25)
∑ Gag Reel (3:54)
Thatís a lot of audio commentaries! Seriously, all kidding aside, it is a lot of tracks, but unlike most films with multiple commentaries here Kurtzman and company manage to more often than not repeat the same material over and over. The Banks/Pine track is a bit more freewheeling and energetic, the Lambert one more technical and the albeit brief Pfeiffer track (thereís under 40 minutes of talking) is arguably the most fascinating, the actressí thoughts on the role and on her craft in general close to incredible.
The making-of doc is way too brief yet at the same time does contain some great interviews with many of the principals, while the energetic Taco Talk is a total improvisational hoot showcasing Pine and Banksí chemistry beautifully. As for the extra scenes and the gag reel, canít say I feel one way or the other about either set of extras, which in the grand scheme of things is probably par for the course.
This is one of the more underrated and underappreciated films released to theatres in 2012. Hereís hoping it finds new life now that it is available on Blu-ray and DVD.