Some films are just surprising. Despite the fact that this film is verging on over the top something in the way it was presented got to me. Surprisingly so. Another surprise was the performance turned in by Elizabeth Banks. Previous to this I had dismissed her as a comedic actress based on her roles in The 40 Year Old Virgin, Fred Claus, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and Role Models. In Alex Kurtzman’s (first film) People Like Us, she is funny again, but also angry, sad, shocked, and defensive. In other words, she demonstrates her range and based on this film she has a wide range. Between her rawness and Chris Pine’s vulnerability they save the film from it from being a complete melodramatic mess.
After closing a huge deal and coming back to work to tell his boss (Jon Favreau – John Carter, Couples Retreat), Sam (Chris Pine – This Means War, Unstoppable) is on a high. His high comes to a crashing halt when his boss tells him of a screw up Sam did that will not only cost the company tons of money, but will also have the Feds after them. It is at this moment that his girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde – from television’s House) tells him some awful news.
Sam’s father, a music producer who was influential, but never made it big, has finally succumbed in his fight against cancer. Despite this tragic news it seems like Sam is not too anxious to go to his father’s funeral. After some stalling ploys Hannah gets him home. They have missed the funeral and his mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer – Dark Shadows, Scarface) is less than pleased with him. There is so much tension in the house you could barely cut it with a chainsaw.
Before Sam and Hannah are to fly back Sam is contacted by his father’s lawyer and old friend, Ike Rafferty (Philip Baker Hall – 50/50, Mr. Popper’s Penguins). They meet at a bar that his father and Ike used to frequent. Thinking that he will finally get something worthwhile from his father, i.e. money, Sam looks forward to the meeting. He is more than a little disappointed when all he gets is his father’s shaving kit. Sitting there completely disillusioned Sam opens the leather bag and his jaw drops when he discovers $150,000 in it. Believing that all his money problems are over Sam’s hopes are crushed yet again when he reads a note inside from his father that says to give the money to Josh and gives an address.
Not sure what he is going to do, turn over the money to a stranger or keep it for himself, Sam decides to go check out who this Josh is. Turns out Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario – from television’s John Adams) is a 12-year-old boy who lives with his single mother, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks). Frankie is a recovering alcoholic who works at a bar. Sam meets them both and discovers another secret. Frankie is his half-sister. That is when his life gets a whole lot more complicated.
It is a film that doesn’t try to hide that its goal is to make you weep. And weep I did. Even though I recognized I was being manipulated it did not stop the crying. The above average acting from the two leads elevates the film above the lowly mush level. It wavers between dark comedy and overwrought emotions throughout.
The last part of the film is where we finally get the payoff. It is where things come to light and the characters have to deal with all their flaws, mistakes, things unsaid, and all the secrets they’ve kept. Be patient and you’ll be rewarded.
- Number One With A Bullet: The Story Behind People Like Us — Inspired By True Events, Filmmakers Alex Kurtzman And Roberto Orci, Best Known For Making Big-Budget Sci-Fi Action Movies, Go Back To Their Roots And Make A Small Film From The Heart
- Taco Talk — Chris And Elizabeth Do Extended Improvisational Takes, While Chris Fulfills A Fantasy Of Shooting At His Childhood Favorite Local Taco Stand, The Legendary Henry’s Tacos
- Deleted Scenes
- Audio Commentary — With Director Alex Kurtzman And Writer Jody Lambert
- Audio Commentary — With Director Alex Kurtzman And Actors Chris Pine And Elizabeth Banks
- Select Scene Commentary — With Director Alex Kurtzman And Actress Michelle Pfeiffer