The directorial debut of Alex Kurtzman, co-screenwriter of big-budget genre fare like Star Trek, Cowboys & Aliens and the Transformers movies, People Like Us takes aim at the intense affection and resentment that only family can inspire, telling the story of a young man’s discovery of a half-sister he never knew he had. An affectionate drama marked and buoyed by engaging performances, the movie’s apex of catharsis is a genuinely nice payoff, but the home stretch of the road it takes to get there bends a bit too much toward convenience.
Still, if one can overlook various road-bumps and the obviousness with which the dramatic boil gets turned up, there’s much to enjoy. The movie’s technical package is solid. Shooting in a bevy of locations, cinematographer Salvatore Totino delivers a Los Angeles that feels palpably rooted as these characters’ homes instead of some tourist snapshot fantasy of the same.
The performances are winning, as well. Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks have a legitimately nice chemistry, and the latter brings a sardonic, self-defensive pop to scenes even if the movie shrugs off her character’s disease of alcoholism in short order. Michelle Pfeiffer, meanwhile, showcases a fragility laced with surprising reserves of flintiness. And in his feature film debut, young Michael Hall D’Addario is solid. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (Disney/DreamWorks, PG-13, 115 minutes)