Alex Kurtzman’s People Like Us stars Chris Pine as Sam, a New York wheeler dealer who discovers on the death of his father that he has a sister (Frankie, played by Elizabeth Banks) and nephew he knew nothing about.
The movie explores Sam’s emotional battle to come to terms with his father’s secret family and his desire to keep the truth from mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) while contemplating stealing the $150,000 his father left to nephew Josh.
Pine is fine as the initially arrogant and self-centred Sam, but while he’s the film’s main protagonist, Kurtzman’s story is really about mothers and motherhood and appropriately it’s the female stars who really shine.
Bank and Pfeiffer dominate their respective scenes but the story robs the audience of the chance to see them together.
Both Frankie and Lillian have strained relationships with their difficult sons who have both suffer from a lack of a father figure – Josh’s is unknown while Sam’s was distant and emotionally remote.
When the film starts Lillian initially appears to have a pretty comfortable life while Frankie has to work night shifts and leave her kid with neighbours to earn enough to fill the fridge. Yet as the story progresses we see that both mothers are prepared to tough decisions for their sons.
Kurtzman’s script is witty and heart touching, though the final scene brings an unnecessary dose of Hollywood schmaltz to what is otherwise a mature look at parenting and families.
Our verdict: 4/5
In cinemas November 9th.