People Like Us

There’s a pretty sharp divide between people who like People Like Us and critics, who largely don’t. Not as severe as with the Christian-themed movies, like Machine Gun Preacher and Blue Like Jazz, but still pretty distinctive.

Given my cynicism, I’m inclined to believe that this is because the characters in People Like Us are generally pretty likable, decent people, though people with some major character flaws.

Chris Pine plays Sam, who’s a barter broker (this is presented as shady, though I don’t know why it would necessarily be so) living in New York City, having a rough time at his job, though he does have a hot girlfriend, Hannah (played by Olivia Wilde).

And then his dad dies.

Sam’s reaction is not one of grief, but rather avoidance. He doesn’t want to go back to Los Angeles for the funeral, and only does so to avoid having to explain to Hannah why he doesn’t want to go back.

The standard dysfunctional family fare takes a turn when Sam discovers that his father has left him a wad of money—not for himself, but for some woman (Elizabeth Banks) living in the Valley (gasp!). The story unfolds around Sam’s investigation into who she is, and his own struggling with whether or not to keep this money, which he could desperately use.

Good acting all around, especially from good looking women who never actually seem to be asked to act: Banks, Wilde, and (as Sam’s mom) Michelle Pfeiffer. Youngster Michael Hall D’Addario also does a credible job. Pine has to carry the movie, and I thought he did a very fine job, indeed (far removed from his Captain Kirk persona).

Mark Duplass, he of the Duplass brothers-who-seem-to-be-everywhere-these-days, has a small but amusing role as Banks’ neighbor that she basically takes advantage of via hotness.

As a drama/comedy, The Boy thought that this was a little light on the comedy. I pointed out that drama/comedy almost always is—and, actually, given some of the heavy topics addressed by the movie, the funny parts were really funny, in an organic way. The Flower enjoyed it quite a bit, too.

I guess this is already officially a flop, having not made back its meager $16M budget but that seems unwarranted. It’s not much of a summer movie, but it’s an entertaining two hours.

A bonus for me was that the exterior shots were all my stomping grounds. At one point, Sam takes the Highland off-ramp and turns right on Fountain, which is practically my daily commute. (They follow it up with a shot of a hotel that’s not on that route, of course.) The record store, the church, the penthouse are all places that I know.

Hilariously, the ostensibly bad neighborhood Banks lives in is an apartment less than a mile from here that I probably was in when I was first looking for an apartments. We drive past it all the time when visiting grandma (they just stripped the first two numbers from the address).

Obviously,  you’re unlikely to enjoy that, but it’s still a pretty decent flick.

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