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Movie Review

People Like Us also known as “Welcome to People”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some drug use and brief sexuality.

Reviewed by: Russell Emory
CONTRIBUTOR—first time reviewer

Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
2012
USA Release:
June 29, 2012 (wide—2,000+ theaters)
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

man discovers a sister he never knew existed

journey of self-discovery

importance of family

love

funeral

loss of a parent / death

Where did CANCER come from? Answer

estrangement between father and son

alcoholism, drunkenness

A.A. meetings

promiscuity / fornication

child abandonment

marital infidelity

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

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Featuring: Chris PineSam
Elizabeth BanksFrankie
Michael Hall D’Addario … Josh
Michelle PfeifferLillian
Olivia WildeHannah
Mark Duplass … Ted
Jon FavreauRichards
more »
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Producer: DreamWorks SKG
Kurtzman Orci Paper Products
more »
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

“Find your family.”

Editor’s Note: This review was written by a new volunteer. Please send us your evaluation of his/her work.

“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.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—Last night my wife and daughter and I watched the movie, “People Like Us.” While I’ve read a little about the film’s profanity and minor sexuality, what I hadn’t read was anything about its value. We were deeply intrigued throughout, and it wasn’t difficult for us to get past how people shouldn’t swear and shouldn’t do crazy sexual stuff, because, well, people do! Don’t we? The movie and story does an excellent job of including the viewer in both the struggle and recovery of its characters, which counts a lot in life, doesn’t it? I don’t think Jesus carried antiseptic nor earplugs nor rose-colored glasses into any of the relationships he had when walking amongst us, and I don’t either.

He did, however, make good use of a whip on those who cared more for the outward model than the inward heart. (It’s probably a good thing I don’t own a whip.) Jesus isn’t specifically in this movie—he didn’t get a part—but I am involved with people like those in the story, and it does me good to see them working through fears and false, long-held beliefs that have starved them of love. That’s where I live, that’s what counts, and that’s where Jesus in me makes himself most obvious—to me and to others. This is an adult-themed movie, and I like it very much.

Is this a “wholesome” movie? No. But since when is life? If you value people growing and recovering around each other as becoming “whole,” however, then it’s wholesome in that way. I plan to watch it again with my youngest daughter later tonight. I know we’ll have great conversation because we’ve been watching and talking about this kind of thing and these kinds of real-life, how-God-is-involved, situations for years. It’s a treasure chest of value for my family just waiting to be opened. If that’s a new or challenging idea for you, do what you think best. Duh. Maybe pre-view the movie. Maybe don’t do it at all. This is simply how we do things around my home. Know what I’m sayin’?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ralph Harris, age 56 (USA)
Positive—Overall, this was a very good movie. They are dealing with people who were raised as a result of a father living in drugs, alcohol and adultery being in a life of typical music producing lifestyle. However, there wasn’t much cursing, and, yes, the young 10 year old had a horrible attitude, but he was not being raised by a Christian woman and had no father in his life, only shows more how we need to be a positive role model in their lives. And how much this boy needed a father in his life.

I am very selective about the movies I watch, and, overall, I felt this was a good one. Watched the “Five Year Engagement” before this one now that had A LOT of f-words and a lot of sex, this movie was not like that all.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Samantha, age 38 (USA)
Negative
Negative—Years ago, one could go to a Disney film and expect wholesome family entertainment. Sadly, this film does not live up to Disney’s past reputation. On first glance, it seems like it might be a movie to take in, due to what seems to be a respectable storyline. A fellow who has his priorities wrong and puts self first, finds his long lost half sister and her son, who bring some meaning into his life.

Unfortunately, the film is laced with profanities and vulgar comments. I think what’s the most offensive is that children in the film make obscene remarks and gestures. There are a few uses of Jesus” name in vain, and the sh-word is used at least 25 times. The basic storyline is acceptable, but it is a low-budget film and is nothing remarkable… in fact, it drags.

I refer to movies like this as “counsellor movies”—as people who like a character study about dysfunctional people may enjoy it. The only normal person in the film, without a bunch of problems, is his live-in fiancé. Marijuana use is frequent, and all the main adult characters smoke. The 14A rating is there for a reason, and it is very offensive. I’d suggest skipping it, and taking in something more constructive.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kathy Pat, age 52 (Canada)
Negative—Unnecessary crude language. Potty mouth language was so prevalent. Very little to redeem this movie. Because the basis was a true story, it sounded good. I found it embarrassing and disappointing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Sue, age 70 (USA)
Negative—Was really disappointed in this film. It sounded like such a good story in the commercials. Unfortunately, it was a promising story lost in the filthy language of an 11 year old and his adult counterparts, and drug use. While the reviewer said there was limited sexuality, the one act of sex in the show, while brief, was very in your face and for a PG rating, which is what it was rated here in Canada, it came as a shock. My friend and her MIL got up and left. Found the plot plodding and slow in parts.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Susanne, age 52 (Canada)

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