People Like Us [Blu-Ray] Alex Kurtzman

People Like Us [Blu-Ray] Alex Kurtzman
Reiterating the dominant Western cinematic conceit that any smug douchebag ―often Ben Affleck or Matthew McConaughey ― can demonstrate softer human characteristics with the aid of a little perspective, People Like Us treads thematically familiar ground, preaching the importance of family and standard altruistic morality. Though apparently based on a true story, as indicated in the enthusiastic "Making of" supplement included with the Blu-Ray, this comedy-drama follows the basic plot of Bounce, only with some slightly unsettling incest implications. Twenty-something salesman-cum-tool Sam (Chris Pine) learns that his distant music producer father has croaked on the same day that a work-related budgetary short cut results in a gigantic lawsuit. Reluctantly, he hops on a plane with exceedingly perfect (read: poorly written) girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde) to tackle old demons and revisit his remarkably ambivalent mother (Michelle Pfeiffer). And if the entire roster of dead parent/coming home movies has taught us anything, it's that our identity is entirely fluid, as noted here by the surprise reveal of an older sister named Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), who Sam's father ditched as a toddler. As Frankie, Banks holds the film together, balancing guarded fragility with world-weary practicality as a struggling, single, working mother of an angry 11-year-old. Since Sam enters her life as a Godsend, never pointing out that he's her long-lost half-brother that may, or may not, have $150K in a toiletry bag intended for her son, the dramatic conflict stems from our knowledge of her growing romantic feelings and resultant inevitable heartbreak. Whether or not Sam ever learns to care about anyone other than himself is almost incidental, despite being the driving arc of the film. In such, this mostly affable and certainly never offensive story about the importance of honesty and self-sacrifice for lasting human connection is a mixed bag, having some truly touching moments amidst the tedious male narcissism demonstrated by its clichéd protagonist. Also included with the Blu-Ray are two separate commentary tracks with director Alex Kurtzman. One features the actors and the other features the production team. Mostly anecdotal, they add little to the film, much like the bloopers and improvisational scenes that are also available as extras. (Paramount)