Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Movie Review - People Like Us

Photo Credit (Dreamworks)

All families have secrets. Lots of families have some level of dysfunction. People Like Us brings you 2 families each with its own dysfunction and lots of secrets that throw them together. Sam (Chris Pine) is a somewhat sketchy commodities trader. He has a habit of running away from his problems and when he cuts too many corners with a soup shipment, he ends up with a larger debt to cover the loss, his equally unethical boss and the FTC on his back. This very bad day culminates with the news that his estranged father, a well known music producer has died. Sam goes as far as hiding his wallet to keep from attending his father's funeral since their relationship is not remotely normal. Sam has always felt like he wasn't good enough for his dad. After a extremely icy reunion with his mom (Michelle Pfeiffer) after the funeral, Sam can't wait to get out of dodge. Sure his life back home is a mess but i know all too well,the family mess you usually want to escape more than the current life mess. His trip back is derailed when after being told all his father left him in his will was his record collection, and then he is given a old leather bag of his father's, inside is $150,000 and   a handwritten note from his dad to deliver it to Josh Davis at the address listed. 

Because family secrets always find a way to come out, Josh turns out to be a lonely, attention seeking 12 year old. His mom Frankie (Elizabeth Banks who as usual is great) is an alcoholic waitress struggling to make ends meet and do as well by him as she can. Frankie is his sister. Sam never knew Frankie existed, Frankie still remembers the day her father left when she was 8 for his other family and never looked back. She didn't know who they were so Sam is a stranger to her when she meets him at an AA meeting. Sam and Frankie have extremely similar feelings about their father. Even though he left one and stayed with the other its very clear, having Jerry for a dad shaped them in ways that aren't healthy but had a lot to do with the existence of each other.

The tone in this film really grabs you. You feel for Josh, a people-pleaser who uses humor to hide how he's barely keeping his head above water, Sam in his guarded personality pushes his girlfriend Hannah away as he struggles with telling Frankie who he is, Frankie struggles with the idea that she was never good enough for her father and spiraled down into a drug induced state only pulling herself out when she had Josh. The secret redefines Sam's relationship with is mother who he thinks he has to hide this from only to find out she's always known about Frankie. Her own heart ailments, which she ignored while caring for Jerry thru his cancer, force them to figure out how to stop ignoring the elephant in the room. My family has its own level of dysfunction and the way the story is told makes it believable. The things that people hide from the world are massive and complicated. Jerry's actions are never as simple on the surface and it's not till the end of the film that you understand and the characters as well do a self-reflection of why Jerry's relationship with his children turned out this way and how in his own little way he hid many more details. You go from thinking his a prick to someone who made bad choices but even he knew he fucked up.

I give this movie a Full Price. It's a drama and I wouldn't dare call this a chick flick. It's not a romance, it's a movie about family and that family could very easily be yours, your best friend's or the barista who makes your drink. Life is full of secrets and surprises and they happen to everyday people.

People Like Us is rated PG-13.

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