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People Like Us: movie review

While star Elizabeth Banks is good, 'People' is a year's worth of soap opera complications in one movie.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / June 29, 2012

In 'People Like Us,' Sam (Chris Pine, l.) finds out he has a half-sister (Elizabeth Banks, center) and nephew (Michael Hall D’Addario, r.) he never knew about.

Disney Dreamworks II/AP

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Alex Kurtzman’s “People Like Us” seems to have been devised for audiences who want to experience an entire year’s worth of soap opera complications in a single sitting. Chris Pine plays Sam, a go-getter salesman whose estranged father has just died, leaving him $150,000 in cash. The catch is that the money is intended for a daughter his father had out of wedlock years before and abandoned. In other words, Sam has a half sister, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), and an adolescent nephew, Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario), he never knew about.

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Instead of just leveling with Frankie and giving her the money (which he could sorely use for his own debts), Sam spends quality time with her while pretending to be a member of her AA group. We keep waiting – and waiting – for him to tell her who he is. But of course, if he told her early on, there wouldn’t be much of a movie. As it is, there isn’t much of one anyway, although Banks, as the struggling, bitter, resilient Frankie, is good. The most interesting plot development – Frankie starts falling for Sam – is nipped in the bud. Some things even a soap opera won’t stoop to. Grade: C (Rated PG-13 for language, some drug use and brief sexuality.)

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