People Like Us Review

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Trailer
  • People Like Us film still

Score

This bloated, saccharine melodrama sees Chris Pine needlessly meddling with his estranged father's dying wishes.

In the opening scenes of producer-turned-director Alex Kurtzman's Sparksian, MOR syrup tsunami, People Like Us, Chris Pine's Sam is presented as a corporate jackel you can get behind, a wise-cracking, besuited, high-fiving shitbird whose submissive mistress is the volatile world of large-scale stock bartering.

Man, he's so damn hot at the moment, he doesn't even need to shave. That is until an incident involving a trainload of expired tomato bisque explodes en route to Latin America – a bizarre, near-Kubrickian off-camera episode that, in fact, would've made for a for more interesting cinematic focal point. But I digress...

So Sam's in a tight spot, but all that has to be back-burnered as his estranged pops, Jerry – a rock record producer of some considerable note and a dead ringer for ELO's Jeff Lynne – has succumbed to cancer. Sam unwillingly heads back home to LA to grieve with his mother (Michelle Pfeiffer), all the time hoping to make a quick exit before things get icky. But it all goes loco when the family lawyer saddles him with a shaving bag filled with $150 grand in grubby bank notes and instructions to pass the money on to his father's secret lovechild and her 11-year-old son.

And of course, Sam just doesn't have the spine to just pass the money over to Elizabeth Banks's Frankie and her wiseacre brat, thus stringing this unlikely yarn out to an unnecessarily gigantic 115 minutes. Toploaded with with banal and circuitous monologues, tastefully partitioned narrative revelations, life-affirming montages and go-get-'em-champ wisdom bombs, Kutzman does everything in his power to try and make you forget that this entire film orbits around one man's chronic inability to come clean to Frankie and give her the money which – the film takes great pains to underscore – she really, really needs.

There's no denying that People Like Us is a robust (if overly flashy) piece of Hollywood craftsmanship which has been built to serve the purposes of a very specific audience. But while there's a satisfying, if contrived chemistry to Pine and Banks' burgeoning relationship, the film feels nothing more than a conflation of rote scenes which – like salty, fatty junk food – favour bland familiarly over exciting new flavours.

It also pedals the idea that everyone loves it when an inhumane shyster finds his mojo. In fact, Sam has only transfered his agressive trading tactics to fragile, real-life concerns, so even when the final reels go into dewey-eyed overdrive, it's still hard to feel sympathetic towards about this guy's supposed emotional awakening.

Anticipation

No surprises expected from what looks like a standard-issue romantic drama.

2

Enjoyment

No surprises received from what is a standard-issue romantic drama.

2

In Retrospect

There are tiny elements which impress, but Pine's reformed shyster is hard horse to want to back.

2
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