Reviewed by: Russell Emory
CONTRIBUTOR—first time reviewer
man discovers a sister he never knew existed
journey of self-discovery
importance of family
loss of a parent / death
Where did CANCER come from? Answer
estrangement between father and son
promiscuity / fornication
How did bad things come about? Answer
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
What kind of world would you create? Answer
|Featuring:||Chris Pine … Sam
Elizabeth Banks … Frankie
Michael Hall D’Addario … Josh
Michelle Pfeiffer … Lillian
Olivia Wilde … Hannah
Mark Duplass … Ted
Jon Favreau … Richards
Kurtzman Orci Paper Products
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
“Find your family.”
“People Like Us” is Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s first foray into drama. This duo is known more for popcorn blockbusters like “Transformers,” “Cowboys and Aliens” and the recent “Star Trek” reboot. Needless to say, many will be very interested to see how this duo does with a story that does not put the world in peril.
The movie stars Chris Pine as Sam, a fast-talking, twenty-something salesman in New York City. Sam receives news that his latest deal has collapsed in epic fashion. He also learns that his record producer father in California has died after a battle with cancer. Sam is forced to return to California with his girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde) to help settle his father’s estate. Sam is forced to reconnect with his estranged mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) and come to terms with his relationship with his father.
After receiving information from his father’s lawyer (Phillip Baker Hall) Sam discovers that his father had a secret that turns Sam’s world on its head. He has a half-sister Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) and a nephew Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario). As Sam develops a relationship with them, he begins to rethink his priorities and reconnect with his family.
There are many incidents in the film that some will find offensive. Josh is suspended from school for causing an explosion in the school’s pool, using material from science class, and later for attacking a boy that is bullying him with a textbook. Sam also spends two nights in his father’s at-home studio. One is spent on a drinking binge, and the second is spent abusing the medicinal marijuana that his father was prescribed.
There is limited sexuality in the film. Frankie wears outfits that she describes as “upscale skank,” but shows less than most bathing suits would show. She also has a brief tryst with her downstairs neighbor, which amounts to less than a minute of screen time. She also reveals that, at one point, she was so promiscuous that she has no idea who Josh’s father is. Sam also gives Josh advice about sleeping with women, and Josh describes a seventeen year old girl in the film as “Mexican and braless.”
Profanity is found throughout the movie, some of it uttered by middle school children, which many may find more offensive than being uttered by adults. Josh uses the f-word once. Four different times a slang word for male genitals is uttered as an adjective to describe someone. Four times the Lord’s name is used as a profanity. The s-word is by far the most prevalently used, being uttered almost 23 times.
The movie tackles an issue that is very prevalent in today’s society: the breakdown and failure of the family—father abandonment, in particular. Sam and Frankie’s father is absent. He abandons Frankie and her mother in favor of Sam and Lillian. Sam resents his father because he was never around. Father issues are prevalent throughout the movie. The influence, or lack thereof, of a father figure is established in both Frankie and Sam’s character development.
Throughout the film, Sam and Frankie bond over their issues with their father. It becomes something that drives Sam’s relationship with Josh, and, in a way, Sam becomes a father figure for Josh. There are no overt Christian overtones in the film, but there are positive portrayals and acknowledgment of God. Frankie and Sam attend an AA meeting at a church, where a cross is displayed in a prominent location. There is also a scene where a biker, in a group of bikers, is wearing a T-shirt that says “God is love.” Also, in a third scene, Frankie sarcastically asks, “Is that the best you got God?”, while observing a sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
The movie is overall well made and well acted. While it may be overly dramatic, in some cases, the film could lead to important discussions about family and the responsibilities of fathers. For me, many times I was reminded of the film “Elizabethtown” starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. Both Bloom and Pine are hotshots in their industry, who have potentially career ending disasters at the same time their father’s die. Both men learn about their fathers, while discovering what is important in their lives.
Overall, I give the movie a B. The writing is well done, the filmmaking quality is also good, and the actors all excelled in their roles, although not at an Oscar level.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate to heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.