New Yorker Sam Harper (Chris Pine) is too slick for his own good. A hotshot trader in bartered wholesale merchandise, his hasty deal gets him in hot water with both his boss and the feds, and he loses the commission he was counting on to clear up his and his wife Hannah’s (Olivia Wilde) debts. In the midst of this, Sam suddenly learns his estranged father has died in Los Angeles. He and Hannah fly out for the funeral with great trepidation.
Combat-hardened LA bartender and single mom Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), the other main character in Alex Kurtzman’s half-a-hanky family drama People Like Us, is also a bit too tough on herself. Sam and Frankie, it turns out, are long-lost half siblings by the same recently deceased father, a randy and undependable rock ‘n’ roller. They don’t remember each other, and their ultimate reunion is what this slender yet effective character study is all about. That, and the idea that you can never run away from who you are — it always catches up with you.
It’s one of those movies in which the big news — the thing they’re all afraid to talk about — gets delayed in scene after scene, yet when it finally arrives we’re gratified rather than annoyed. That’s due to Pine and Banks’ playing, with a major assist from Michelle Pfeiffer as Sam’s mom, Lillian, and Michael Hall D’Addario as Josh, Frankie’s wise-mouthed, sweet-hearted eleven-year-old son. Sam relates to Josh, Frankie eventually relates to Sam, Lillian and Frankie forgive the men in their lives, and Mark Duplass appears in his 250th film this year — or so it seems — as Frankie’s boyfriend. Enjoy.