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Movie Review: People Like Us

June 29, 2012

People Like Us – A Walt Disney Pictures’ Release

Release Date: June 29th, 2012

Rated 14A for language, substance abuse and mature themes

Running time: 115 minutes

Alex Kurtzman (dir.)

Alex Kurtzman (writer)

Roberto Orci (writer)

Jody Lambert (writer)

A.R. Rahman (music)

Chris Pine as Sam

Elizabeth Banks as Frankie

Michael Hall D’Addario as Josh

Michelle Pfeiffer as Lillian

Olivia Wilde as Hannah

Mark Duplass as Ted

Sara Mornell as Dr. Amanda

Philip Baker Hall as Ike Rafferty


©Walt Disney Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Sam (Chris Pine), Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) and Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario) in People Like Us.

Our reviews below:


People Like Us Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Excellent performances and a nicely written script make People Like Us a genuinely heartfelt film about family that deserves to find an audience amidst the big summer blockbusters.  Produced by DreamWorks, it’s reassuring to know that a big studio like Disney would take a chance on distributing this low key drama for adults.

When his father dies, Sam (Chris Pine) is left with $150,000 in cash and the instructions to deliver it to single mother Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) and her 11-year-old son Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario), a sister and nephew that he never knew he had.  Putting even more of a strain on his relationship with girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde) and his grieving mother, Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer), Sam starts to instinctively help Frankie and becomes somewhat of a father figure to Josh.  But he just can’t seem to find the right time to break the news that he is the brother that their father abandoned her for, and give her the money that could change their lives.

There are two components to People Like Us that make it work as well as it does.  The first is the script by director Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, and the second is the performances by the uniformly excellent cast.  The great Elizabeth Banks gives what is perhaps her best performance yet, perfectly embodying a hardworking single mother desperately trying not to let past regret get in the way of raising her son.  This is her fourth big movie this year, and it’s a role pulled off to sometimes heartbreaking effect.  Chris Pine proves that he can do more than just action movies as he gives his most emotionally honest performance to date.  Excellent newcomer Michael Hall D’Addario holds his own alongside both of them.

Mark Duplass also has a few brief scenes that are as believably entertaining as we have come to expect from the breakout independent star, providing some memorable moments of humour in the film.  What’s refreshing and actually kind of fearless about People Like Us is that the movie doesn’t mind showing good looking characters who smoke and get high to deal with their believably messed up lives.  The film is thankfully never melodramatic, trading your typical clichéd sentiment for the messy emotions of real life.  A schlocky and manipulative tearjerker this is not.

With a strong script that is believable every step of the way and excellent performances from a top notch cast, People Like Us is an honestly heartfelt film about family connections.  Topped off with a wonderful soundtrack and a genuinely moving final scene, this small studio film is one of the best of the year.


People Like Us Review by Erin V.  

*** (out of 4)

In People Like Us, Chris Pine plays Sam, a twenty-something guy who finds out his father has died, and has to head home for his funeral.  Once there though, he discovers that his father’s left a note with instructions for Sam to fulfill his last wishes – to deliver a large sum of cash to a sister Sam never knew he had.

Sam could desperately use the money himself, but following the instructions, he gets in touch with the sister Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), and finds out that he has an 11-year-old nephew Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario) as well.  But at first, he is unable to figure out how to reveal to Frankie who he is, something that only becomes harder the more he gets to know and care about his nephew and sister, and realize her feelings about their father.

People Like Us has a surprising indie feel that isn’t quite clear from the trailer.  It is a very quiet and slow-paced film, but feels believable as do its characters.  All of the actors are really good here.  The film is inspired by a true story, and is worth seeing as a quiet people drama.


People Like Us Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

People Like Us explores what it means to be a family.  Sam (Chris Pine) works for a company whose ethics are questionable.  He is losing money, so when his estranged father, famous record producer Jerry Harper dies, Sam is given a shaving bag containing $150,000.  But the money is not for him.  It is meant for Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), a sister Sam never knew existed.  He decides to see who Frankie is before handing over the money, so he heads over to the address on listed on his father’s will.

Sam discovers that Frankie is the single mother of an 11-year-old, Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario).  Josh is a smart yet very impulsive child who has a knack for getting into trouble.  Sam slowly gets to know Josh, becoming a father figure to him.  He also gets to know Frankie through the AA meetings she attends.  But he still hasn’t told her that he is her brother.  What will he do about the money?

People Like Us is a well made film.  The acting and dialogue are believable, and Michael Hall D’Addario is particularly good as Josh.  His smart and cocky attitude is quite funny.  The film also has a lot of heart as it progresses.  It captures the family dynamics quite well.  People Like Us ultimately has a good family message that will appeal to a wide range of adult demographics, including single mothers.


People Like Us Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Sam Harper (Chris Pine) is a real wheeler-dealer who thinks nothing of being flexible with the facts to win a contract for the product overstock company he works for.  It turns out that Sam likely got his charm from his late father, music producer Jerry Harper.

When Jerry Harper dies, Sam reluctantly heads back home with his girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde) to attend the funeral.  Sam’s mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) is clearly annoyed at Sam for staying away so long.  It’s also clear Dad had a lot of secrets.  Sam sticks around after the funeral to meet with his father’s lawyer and try to sort out his father’s unusual final request.  Presented with an old shaving kit filled with a large sum of cash and a note asking him to deliver it to a Josh Davis.  Sam embarks on a personal journey that will lead him to the real meaning of family.

What Sam discovers is a half-sister he never knew existed, Frankie Davis (Elizabeth Banks), a single mother with a young son, Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario) whose attitude and antics would test the patience of any mother.  The time Sam spends with Frankie and Josh challenges him to learn more about himself, his late father and get closer to his mother.

People Like Us is a quietly honest look at believably imperfect individuals who do their best to live their lives and open their hearts to family.  The acting is solid from all the lead actors with young Michael Hall D’Addario giving a particularly good performance as Josh.  This is a film that never feels overly sentimental, yet leaves the viewer caring about what happens to each of the characters.

Overall, People Like Us has a quiet indie feel with a soundtrack that matches the mood perfectly.  People Like Us is a nice change of pace from the many action-packed blockbusters and romantic comedies that fill the screens.  Fans of the talented cast will want to check this one out.


People Like Us Review by Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Sam (Chris Pine) is a fast-talking barter agent whose latest deal just went south, and just as he is trying to save his job, he hears his father has died. Though Sam and his dad, a successful record producer, have not spoken in years, Sam’s girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde) brings him back home to L.A. to pay his respects. Sam’s relationship with his mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) is also strained.

His father has left him a bag of cash ($150K) to give to the young son Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario) of a sister Sam never knew about, the product of a weekend affair named Frankie (Elizabeth Banks). Abandoned by her father at eight years of age, Frankie is upset that she was not mentioned in her father’s obituary. Sam meets Frankie at an AA meeting and gets to know her and her son but can not bring himself to explain who he really is. Just as everything is crashing around him, Sam finds a way to set things right so he and his family can heal.

Based on personal experience, People Like Us is co-written and the first feature directed by Alex Kurtzman. Like a fine stage play, the script, delivered by an excellent ensemble cast, rings true all the way from the outset to its touching conclusion. Highly recommended.


Consensus: With a good script and excellent performances from Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks and newcomer Michael Hall D’Addario, People Like Us is a quietly heartfelt and genuinely touching drama about family connections.  ***1/4 (Out of 4)

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