People Like Us Blu-ray Review
PEOPLE LIKE US is the story of Sam (Chris Pine), a struggling trader that goes back home to settle the estate of his recently deceased father. When there, Sam receives a bag full of money with a note saying he’s supposed to give it to Josh. Sam later learns that Josh is his nephew and that he has a sister he didn’t know about named Frankie (Elizabeth Banks). Frustrated that he has to give the money away to someone he doesn’t even know, Sam decides to meet Frankie and Josh and get to know his new family.
The single big problem with PEOPLE LIKE US is that Sam doesn’t tell Frankie right away that he’s her brother. There’s no other reason for a single, attractive man and a single, attractive woman to hang out than to start a romantic relationship. Single guys don’t hang out with single moms and their kids because they’re bored, they hang out because they want romance. This is not a rule I just made up, it’s been true for centuries and everyone over the age of 15 knows it. So when Sam decides to hang around Frankie and take them out to eat and on road trips, it’s only natural that the audience starts to feel the same thing Frankie (remember that she doesn’t know Sam is her brother) is feeling; they’d make a cute couple and we want them to get together. But we (and Sam) know they’re related, so everything feels awkward and almost wrong (because it is).
To make matters worse, the filmmakers told the story of Sam and Frankie getting to know each other as if it were the beginnings of a romantic relationship. The long talks in the middle of the night, the drives on the beach and the fancy dinners are all things couples do. Of course, Frankie eventually “asks for more” and then everything blows up and our worst fears are confirmed. All of this could have been negated if Sam had just told her he was her brother from the beginning. He didn’t really have a reason not to tell her and he could have kept the money a secret until later, but he decided to anyway, making everything uncomfortable.
There’s something about Chris Pine that just comes off as obnoxious. He adds a snarkiness to every role, which helped him with Captain Kirk, but hurts him in these romantic dramas. Sam is not a likeable character as he whines about his father not spending enough time with him, his mother not being strong enough and his job not paying him enough. When you add in the lying he does to Frankie, it makes it really hard to get behind him. In contrast, Elizabeth Banks does great as Frankie, making her a very likeable and endearing character. This is a credit to the talent of Banks, who continues to expand her range as an actress by taking more diverse roles. Unfortunately for the film, since the audience likes Frankie so much, it makes us dislike Sam that much more.
PEOPLE LIKE US wanted to be a film about a bitter son that comes home and learns to be a man and forgive his father. But it turned out to be a very awkward romantic drama with a strong incest undertone. It had some really sweet moments and scenes that I enjoyed, but with the incest angle hanging in the background, it was hard to ever fully enjoy them. Elizabeth Banks does a wonderful job and her performance alone makes this worthwhile, but it’s still not enough to overcome the bigger issues.
Video: PEOPLE LIKE US is yet another impressive Blu-ray release from Buena Vista, who have really become the industry leader in video quality. Director Alex Kurtzman used a lot of light tricks to highlight certain scenes and they really popped on Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was sufficient for this type of movie, which relies heavily on the front channel speakers.
Commentary with writer/director Alex Kurtzman, Elizabeth Banks and Chris Pine: A pretty decent commentary where Alex Kurtzman does a good job keeping the ball rolling and Elizabeth Banks does a great job asking questions about the behind-the-scenes stuff as well as interjecting great stories. Chris Pine is relatively quiet, but when he’s engaged in the conversation he’s fun to listen to.
Commentary with Alex Kurtzman and co-writer/co-producer Jody Lambert: Another interesting track where we learn more about the creative process of the writer and how PEOPLE LIKE US eventually made it to the big screen.
Commentary with Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Pfeiffer: This is actually only a partial commentary, but since it only runs around 35 minutes it worth listening to because Michelle Pfeiffer delves into her character.
“Number One with a Bullet: The Story of ‘People Like Us’” (14:27): A behind-the-scenes featurette that is mostly full of film clips as well as interviews from the cast and crew. It’s not a bad featurette and if you were a fan of the film I would recommend giving this a watch.
“Taco Talk” (4:50): This is Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks doing some improv with their characters in front of the taco restaurant.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (18:24): These are alright and would have been fine left in or left out. You can view these with an introduction from director Alex Kurtzman.
Gag Reel (3:53): Your typical gag reel that features too much of Chris Pine breaking down into fits of laughter.