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Capone isn't sure that people like you will like PEOPLE LIKE US!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

The feature directing debut from mega-successful science-fiction/adventure writer (STAR TREK, TRANSFORMERS, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III) Alex Kurtzman (who wrote this along with his writing partner Roberto Orci and Jody Lambert) is a classic example of chemistry and reliable acting saving an over-baked story. Were it not for the magical acting powers of Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks, PEOPLE LIKE US might have been a very painful film to endure. Instead, what we get is a curious story about a slick salesman (Pine) who returns to the home in which he grew up and finds out that he has a half-sister he never knew about, courtesy of his philandering father.

I assume situations like this occur a bit more frequently than we may realize, but that doens't stop this scenario from feeling a little forced, bordering on false. But Banks (playing a bartender and struggling single mom) and Pine co-exist so well together that they bring believability into the picture. Banks' Frankie also is a recovering substance abuser who hadn't seen the father since she was a kid, and is having a tough time dealing with abandonment issues that clearly have fueled her history of bad choices in men and left her son a mess of a kid who likes to blow up pools. The introduction of Pine into their lives (he doesn't reveal their connection right away) is almost more than she can handle, even though he presents himself as a guy who has no interest in sleeping with her and only wants to help her and the kid out. Naturally, she thinks he's too good to be true.

Frankie is a woman who has no time for a man in her life. She has sex when she needs it with the sweet, slightly weird dude who lives in the apartment below her (played by the underused Mark Duplass of all people); Pine is a guy who is so focused on making money that he barely has time for the beautiful girlfriend (Olivia Wilde) who desperately wants to guide him through this time in his life where he's both bitter and in mourning over his father. His mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) isn't much help, and he seems to get the greatest comfort from a woman who doesn't even know they're related and going through the same struggles.

This is all subtext of the script; the problem is the text of the script isn't nearly as interesting as what lies beneath. Kurtzman and Orci aren't happy unless there are big moments or drastic dramatic shifts in the story, and none of that is necessary or as interesting as just watching Pine and Banks interact, moan about their lives, and work things out. Those are the best moments in PEOPLE LIKE US, and there are simply not enough of them.

All of that being said, I hope Kurtzman is inspired to make more films like this one. He proves he has an ear for heartfelt, angst-ridden conversation, and I enjoyed hearing these two solid actors deliver his dialogue. Maybe next time he'll cut away the fat and get to the meat of his story a little more convincingly. PEOPLE LIKE US is a decent first effort, but there's not quite enough there to fully recommend it.

-- Steve Prokopy
"Capone"
capone@aintitcool.com
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