Movie review in the Friday, June 29 Oregonian....
With "People Like Us," director/co-writer Alex Kurtzman takes his real experience of meeting his half-siblings late in life and adapts it into a comedy-drama that evokes Cameron Crowe right down to the soundtrack.
The movie's well-acted and a bit frustrating, but also a pleasant little surprise, given that Kurtzman made his fortune co-writing huge flashy blockbusters with Roberto Orci -- including Michael Bay's first two "Transformers" movies and J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek." By contrast, "People" has a $16-million budget and aspires to the tiny. It's weirdly refreshing that Kurtzman has used his clout to make a mid-list dramedy that feels aimed at the actual adults the cineplex rarely tries to court nowadays.
Chris Pine plays the Kurtzman stand-in -- a glib corporate-barter salesman whose career melts down "Jerry Maguire"-style while he travels to L.A. to attend the funeral of the father he hadn't spoken to in years. Pine's inheritance includes a shaving-kit bag full of cash, with instructions to deliver the money to a struggling single mom (Elizabeth Banks) -- the half-sibling Pine never knew he had.
If the movie has one problem, it's that Kurtzman and co-writers Orci and Jody Lambert hinge way too much of their drama on Pine not revealing his sibling status to Banks for so long that it feels contrived and maybe even slightly creepy -- especially after Pine befriends Banks under false pretenses and forms a mentorly bond with her smart-alecky kid (Michael Hall D'Addario) while hanging out with them for weeks. But the strong cast and Kurtzman's flair for character humor and relaxed conversation somehow sell the film anyway -- particularly during the rambling chats between Pine and his mom (Michelle Pfeiffer).
(115 min., rated PG-13) Grade: B-minus
'People Like Us' (The Oregonian, Friday, June 29, 2012)