Review of People Like Us

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A young businessman (played by Chris Pine) returns home after his estranged father's sudden death, only to uncover a devastating family secret which in turn sends him on an unexpected journey of self-discovery. Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde & Elizabeth Banks also star.
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You’ve heard of “People like Us”? The heavily-tauted film from the people who brought you “The Help” that barely even meets that mediocre effort, or has the two actresses who made that film what it was. That this was written by the two guys who wrote “Transformers” is no surprise, this is about as mechanical as story-telling gets.

It centers on a smooth-talking barterer named Sam (Chris Pine, who could really use that “Star Trek” sequel right about now), in major debt and about to lose his job when he hears his no-good father has past away. What is generally something he wants to dismiss ends up opening his eyes to the fact he has a half-sister named Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), a walking incarnation of hard-luck clichés-single mom, troubled son (Michael Hall D’Addario), recovering alcoholic, works in a bar. Sam has been left money by his father to give to this second family, but for some reason he keeps bumping into them but never telling them they’re all related. Soon he’s hanging out with her son and making her think he’s romantically interested in her, something that would feel downright creepy if “People Like Us” weren’t so obviously trying to pull your heartstrings from the outset.

Will he give her the money? Will he ever reveal his true intentions? Will they all learn to care for one another as people do? Chances are you’ll figure it out long before the movie even starts. In the meantime, writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (the later also directed the film) are on auto-pilot, handling this all with dull melodrama (Sam and Frankie bonding over what a dick their “dads” were, Sam’s unresolved issues with mom, played by Michelle Pffeiffer) and phony clichés. You have your cutesy hallmark-style bonding moments, your easily bypassable conflict, your manipulatively teary-eyed resolution. This is like a hack version of a Cameron Crowe movie, even classic rock records are incorporated into the story. The actors try their best, but it’s like whipping a dead horse. Everyone is sleepwalking through it, the genuine feeling and surprises never come. The real title should be “People Are Bored Stiff by Us.”