Customer Reviews: People Like Us (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
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on September 22, 2012
When you grow up in a family that society doesn't consider to be "normal" you may wonder if there is anyone else like you. It often comes as a surprise that there are indeed People Like Us.

Initially I looked forward to seeing Chris Pine (he's a cutie and I liked him in Star Trek) and Elizabeth Banks (she's pretty and funny in Zack and Miri and a few other comedy roles) but didn't expect such phenomenal acting. I figured it'd be "okay" but not moving. I was pleasantly surprised!

At the start of the film, we meet Sam (Pine) who's a young hot shot driven by money but kind of a jerk. He gets into a jam when a business deal goes wrong (and violates a few laws) and is in desperate need of money to make things right. As he struggles to save his job, he finds out his father has died. His girlfriend expects him to be upset and fly across the country to be with his mother for the funeral.

However, Sam doesn't think much of his father. When they arrive, the tension between him and his mother paints a broader picture. Sam hasn't been home in years. Then a bombshell is dropped on him... His dad wants him to deliver a large sum of cash to a half-sister he never knew existed.

I expected Sam to take the money and run even though I knew there wouldn't be much of a movie of that happened!

As he gets to know his sister and her son, Sam grows into a more mature man and eventually realizes his father wasn't the man he thought he was. As for his sister Frankie (Banks), it was amazing to watch how she tried her hardest as a working single mother despite all the crap life dealt her.

My favorite scene is how she deals with the principal after Josh blew up the school's swimming pool...

I really related to this movie. My own family is a bit different and there have been times I disliked family members and there's been drama. Over the years things have changed - we've all changed - and most barriers are overcome. The end scene with Sam and Frankie (I won't give it away!) brought tears to my eyes...tears of happiness and hope. It was such a touching moment and gave them (and me) a new perspective on their father.

Most importantly, it reinforced the importance I have for my family. I won't call this a "feel good" movie exactly, but it shows a real, plausible, modern family situation. It gives hope that people can make the best of their situation and choose to embrace it rather than fight it. I wish I could better describe why I love this movie so much, but it's really hard for me to put into words. It's a movie that made me feel something in my heart.

*This review originally appeared on my blog after screening it on a media trip
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on October 3, 2012
I've seen lots of movies in my short 25 years. I just gotta have the 60s,70,80 and the 90s movies and music because most of everything they make today is...well lets just say,''Not For Me.'' ''People Like Us'' is the kind of movie that really wakes you up inside, and makes you remember that you actually have a pulse. I was overpowered by the story and was hypnotized by how full of life this movie is. I promise that if you buy it, you will not regret it. If you crave movies, music, or anything that can make you feel the emotions of the heart like I do, you've gotta have this movie. ''people Like Us'' is the best movie of the year, if not the best movie you've seen since the ''Notebook.'' Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks gives the very best of themsevles, I don't care what anyone says. I won't tell you to much about the movie because I want you to see for yourself. Trust me!! Its a must have!!
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A studio picture with a premise this contrived shouldn't work, but this 2012 family drama works in ways that are quite unexpected and emotionally resonant because a palpable level of truthfulness emerges with the characters even as the plot teeters precariously on credibility issues. First-time filmmaker Alex Kurtzman, a go-to screenwriter of uber-action fare like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible III, based his personal movie on events in his own life when he met his own half-sister for the first time as he turned thirty. The plot focuses on Sam, a slick, 31-year-old huckster of a salesman in the bartering business. Just as he gets snagged by a bad deal that costs him the huge bonus he just secured to pay off long-standing debts, Sam finds out his father, Jerry Harper, a legendary Laurel Canyon record producer, has died, which means he needs to come home to LA for the funeral against his will. Reuniting with his estranged mother Lillian becomes challenging enough, but Sam also discovers that his father left him $150,000 in his shaving kit.

The catch is that it comes with instructions to deliver the cash to an 11-year-old named Josh, who happens to be the son of Frankie, a half-sister he didn't know he had. Tempted to keep the cash himself, Sam finds Frankie and follows her to an AA meeting where she shares the sudden news of her father's death and the hurtful anger she feels for not being publicly acknowledged as his daughter. Her pain is what becomes the common bond that she and Sam share and the beginning of a web of lies he tells her in order to build upon his newly discovered family ties. It's this thread of deception that propels Kurtzman's storyline, and the moment you start to feel the movie get phony, he manages to get it back on track through the burgeoning relationship that forms between Sam, Frankie and Josh. Of course, the further Sam delays in telling the truth, the more catastrophic the results. Perceptive performances are critical in pulling off this kind of drama, and Kurtzman coaxes strong work from his cast.

Chris Pine captures Sam's manic energy and evasive nature to a T, and he manages to reveal the vulnerability underneath that shows he never quite gave up on his quest for his father's approval and love. Still etched in my memory as the hot-to-trot bookstore clerk in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Elizabeth Banks has matured as an actress and delivers a genuinely empathetic performance as Frankie, a single mother struggling with a hardscrabble life and a smart, troublemaking son. She and Pine manage a nice rapport that skirts the incest minefield that could have occurred in lesser hands. Too long off the screen and still looking like People Magazine's most beautiful woman, Michelle Pfeiffer makes her few scenes count as the newly widowed Lillian, who met Jerry back in the seventies when she was a former hatcheck girl at the Troubadour and dreamed of becoming the next Joni Mitchell. She succinctly shares her anger toward Sam for his indifference toward Jerry while slowly revealing her own secrets and fears. As the precocious Josh, Michael Hall D'Addario is given lines only an 11-year-old in a mainstream movie would speak, but he is such a likeable young actor that he manages to come across as authentic.

Olivia Wilde has a thankless role as Sam's put-upon girlfriend Hannah, but she provides more depth than the plot device she represents, while indie mainstay Mark Duplass (Humpday) seems to be showing up everywhere these days, this time as Frankie's conveniently available downstairs neighbor. There are cameos from familiar character actor Philip Baker Hall (50/50) as Jerry's attorney friend and Jon Favreau as Sam's belligerent boss. A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) provides the original music, while cinematographer Salvatore Totino (The Da Vinci Code) really captures the vibrancy of LA life beyond the stereotypical images. Kurtzman sometimes abuses quick cuts to emphasize Sam's restlessness, but when the truth is revealed in the story, it reinforces the message he sincerely conveys in appreciating the value of family and the importance of forgiveness. His clever use of home movies to bring this message home results in the heartbreaking impact that was obviously intended. I definitely recommend this surprising movie.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon October 6, 2012
Heartwarming film about finding yourself - and connecting through 70s pop music. Bluray has lots more bonuses.

Writers Alex Kurtzman and Jody Lambert are best know for their work on Star Trek and Transformers films than "human personal dramas" but, when Kurtzman learned that he had a cousin he never knew existed it sparked an idea which became this film which the package promotes as "from the studio that brought you THE HELP". Like that film, this one will will generate a lot of "referrals from friends" and by word of mouth. While not - as the package also states - "one of the Year's Very Best" (hey there's a lot of competition out there), it is engrossing and takes some interesting twists and turns, even when the ending seems almost certain.

I see someone prior to me has already posted a "spoiler" which not stating that as their title. But, trust me, there's still another "turn of events" after that - which I didn't see coming. I will say no more about that.

Though it's not apparent from either the advertising or the packaging, records (you know those flat discs before CDs), especially 70s rock bands, play an important pop culture part of the film. Like the famous record scene in "Diner" or much of "High Fidelity", the music discussions in this film will ring true with anyone who was collecting during those days.

The DVD version comes with ONE audio commentary with Kurtzman (who directed the film, as well as co-wrote it) and actors Elizabeth Banks and Chris Pine, plus selected scene commentary with Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays Pine's mother. The Bluray combo-pack includes the above plus some really useful bonus features like the 14-minute featurette on the story behind the film (where I learned the info in the first part of my review), a 5 minute "extended scene in the taco shop" (you'll understand when you see the film), the now-requisite "blooper reel" (4-minutes) and 18 minutes of deleted scenes (with helpful introductions by Kurtzman) which are well worth seeing. There's also ANOTHER full-length audio commentary with Kurtzman and Lambert. I did not listen to any of the three audio commentaries so I can't comment on them, but - for those with the time - they are there.

Hidden in the script are what Pine's character calls " The Six Rules". You need to get nearly through the film to learn what they are but they really are useful. In fact, I wrote them down and have re-read them over the past day or two. I think many of you might as well. Give this film a chance. It's worth your time. And the soundtrack behind the action is definitely cool too!

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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on July 3, 2012
Alex Kurtzman's People Like Us, while not quite aptly named, is an equally feel-good and feel bad drama. There is an ample amount of raw misery in this film. Yet while many of us can sympathize with other children of deadbeat dads, not all of us have secret siblings. And not all of us who lead double lives are as good at hiding one life from the other.

Star Trek reboot's Chris Pine (Sam) and his mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) are the surviving relatives of a music mogul who has recently died of cancer. Shortly after his father's death, Sam is contacted by his father's friend and attorney to discuss the will. After learning that his father left him a record collection instead of coin, Sam is handed an old shaving kit bag. Inside the bag is $150,000.00 in inheritance with a note instructing Sam to deliver the money to someone by the name of Josh (Michael Hall D'Addario), complete with an address. The note is coldly signed "J", his father's first initial.

Sam knows nothing of this "Josh", so he stakes out the address, hoping to learn something of merit that would warrant forking over that much cash to a total stranger. As it stands, Sam has recently pissed off his boss (John Favreau) and is dangerously close to legal trouble and unemployment. He could use the extra cash at the moment, but his curiosity trumps his selfishness.

Sam drives to the address and happens upon one of the only actresses out there that I actually like, Elizabeth Banks, (Frankie). Frankie is back from the principal's office with her son (Josh), as he was caught dropping sodium into the school's swimming pool and blowing it up. Frankie then receives the devastating phone call that her father has died (she's having one of those days we all know and loathe when everything we touch turns to ash), but Sam is discreetly watching the family through the window and is unaware of the context of the phone call.

Sam follows Frankie to her next destination when she rushes out of the house, which happens to be an AA meeting. Frankie confesses to the group that she is considering having "five dirty Martinis" when she reads aloud her father's obituary from the paper. Sam then realizes that her father is his father. He decides to get even closer to her and her son to learn more about them both for his own curiosity's sake and to determine if they are truly worthy of such a healthy inheritance.

Olivia Wilde plays Sam's girlfriend Hannah, and I have yet to see her in a film in which she truly wows me. Although, it was a refreshing change to have two leads in a film that are of the opposite sex, yet have no chance of ever hooking up. We can remain confident that even when he acts like a cad, Sam can still fix his relationship with Hannah. Despite taking possibly longer than necessary to confess the truth to Frankie and involuntarily (and predictably) allowing her to fall in love with him first, we never have to fear that the same tired cheating conundrum will rear its ugly head as it does in most films with opposite sex leads.

D'Addario is lovable as Josh, and he is one of the many characters in this film who will, at some point or many, break your heart. Banks hits the nail on the head with Frankie's abandonment issues, and any of us who have ever felt the pain of being a non-existent blip on their father's radars can relate to her feelings of bitterness, hopelessness and the strength everyone says we possess but that we never actually feel. If you were lucky enough to come from a "functional" family, however, People Like Us accurately details how many lives are affected and how they are negatively altered due to one man's choice to leave his family.

This film may make you cry. There was an audible sniffling amongst the crowd. But aside from all of the pain in this otherwise safe film (Banks' acting when she inevitably learns the truth is breathtaking), if nothing else moves you, the ending will. It is a sweet surprise that reenforces the concept of fate which, even if you aren't a believer, possesses an inescapable warmth. Ultimately, People Like Us is a film that celebrates the concept of family and fosters the idea of hope that, in the end, everything will be okay.
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I really liked this film, and empathized with the main character, Sam, played by Chris Pine, but it took him so long to finally blurt out his secret, I was ready to scream. This is a film about the lack of dynamics in family relationships. A father removed from his son and from other people.

Sam is called home to California because his father has died. He is a salesman trying to make a living, but deep in debt. His girlfriend, Hannah , played by Olivia Wilde has no idea about his finances, And, it seems Sam has kept a lot from her. They arrive late for the funeral, an upset mother, and try to settle in. Sam is asked to meet with the family attorney, and learns he has a half sister and his dad has left her $150,000 dollars. Now, the deceit begins, trying to find out who his sister, Frankie, played by Elizabeth Banks, really is. They become friends, and the deceit continues. The film has a wonderful,storyline, but it goes on far too long. Secrets prevail in this family, no one really talks to each other. Yes, we have been there, done that. Elizabeth Banks really livens up this film, she brings action and emotion. She is left out of the secrets for far too long. An intetesting film, that could have been a great film.

Recommended. prisrob 10-07-12

Small Town Saturday Night

Definitely, Maybe
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on July 6, 2012
Went to see this movie and I would go to see it again. Will buy it. Full of great acting, raw feelings, how our decisions effect our lives and the lives of other, and "what if". You never truly know how deep a persons love will go. Gives you a lot to think about. I would highly recommend it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 1, 2015
I think that Chris Pine sipping coffee for two hours would be a sufficient plot for my wife to enjoy a movie. Or Chris Pine picking his teeth. Or Chris Pine watching a Chris Pine movie. She's a simple woman, easily satisfied, and, since this movie does, indeed, star Chris Pine, she rated it five stars based on the cover image before we even rented it.

I, however, am not so easily swayed by Mr. Pine's beautiful, soft, smile or his easy-going ways. I need more. I need... Elizabeth Banks. Yup, that's the ticket. But I need more than just Elizabeth Banks on the cover image. I need a plot, darn it, and this movie has a good one.

Is it a happy movie? No, not really, but it ends mostly happily. It's a good story about messed up families and messed up kids and redemption, and I thought it pulled the right heartstrings without being too maudlin.

One nit: Chris plays a character that I *think* is supposed to be a bit older than Elizabeth's... or at least roughly the same age. In reality, he's over half a decade younger. No worries - she seems about his age in the movie. Not that I care. She could be playing his mother or his granddaughter, and I'd be on board with it.
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on June 22, 2016
[Minor Spoilers] My faith in (modern) cinema has been restored! Disappointed more often than not with Hollywood offerings in the last couple of decades, "People Like Us" was very welcome, indeed, and the best brother-sister movie since 2000's Oscar-nominated "You Can Count on Me" (Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo). And who knew Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks would lead the way with this bright light of a movie? Pine, worthy of Oscar recognition himself, plays "Sam," a corporate trader, whose job is in jeopardy after a recent bad business deal, but that's just the tip of the iceberg, as Sam then hears from his wife (Olivia Wilde) that his father "Jerry" has died, then immediately, too nonchalantly, asks his wife what's for dinner. Could this be a clue about Sam's childhood? Of course; it's Hollywood, after all. But what's atypical is what his Dad leaves him in his will: $150,000 and a note. The money actually, though, you see, is for Jerry's grandson. Since Sam has no kids of his own (and thought he was his Dad's only child), he then discovers that he has a half-sister, "Frankie" (Banks, in a believably mature role), via his Dad's double life, and a nephew who he never knew existed! And, in the note, his Dad asks Sam to give it to its rightful beneficiaries. What an addition to Sam's to-do list! And what a wonderful cinematic digression from the Hollywood norm. But when Sam hears, firsthand, that his sister despises and wants nothing to do with her Dad's other family, Sam has quite a tall task, not to mention Sam having to tell his Mom (Michelle Pfeiffer, in her best role since "I Am Sam") about her late husband's extended family. How will Sam go about doing so, and will his sister and nephew allow him in their lives? The casting could not have been better, and both Pine and Banks can carry this movie just fine, thank you, with very high-caliber performances in a rare film that genuinely reaches viewers' emotional depths, especially when Sam and his Mom finally open up to each other and Sam puts his head on his Mom's shoulders near the end, though viewers may longingly ache over when Sam will finally make the sibling revelation to Frankie. We all need more movies like this in our lives that elevate Hollywood standards and restore our faith by way of our dreams being realized in great movie-making. Very highly recommended! And thank you, Hollywood! I knew you had it in you!
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on July 8, 2013
This is one of the best family movies I have seen. It leaves you wondering when is he going to tell his sister he is her brother and their father has left money for her. I cried, laughed, and was very happy with the ending. You won't regret buying this movie
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