People Like Us: movie review

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

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

Disney Dreamworks II/AP
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.

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.

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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