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You don’t know any people like them

“People Like Us” works despite its flaws

June 27, 2012, 5:00 am

In the movies, “Inspired by true events” usually means “100 percent horseshit.”

The story in People Like Us feels like baloney, but we all know someone who’s uncovered a shocking secret when a family member dies. For Sam (Chris Pine), that secret is his recently dead father had a long-standing affair that produced a daughter, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), who’s roughly Sam’s age. Sam is given gobs of money to deliver to the sister and her 11-year-old son, Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario), who’s a delinquent.

Complicating things is the fact that Sam needs money himself—he’s made a stupid business decision and is in trouble with his boss and the FTC—and he debates whether he should just keep it. The set-up is kind of lame, but self-loathing goes a long way in the movies, and Sam and Frankie have plenty of both. It helps that Banks can rise to any challenge. She gives Frankie depth, humor and pathos in all the right places, even though the screenplay makes her a fuck-up for convenience rather than necessity. D’Addario shines in a part that could be totally annoying.

Pine is good, but Olivia Wilde and Michelle Pfeiffer are wasted in thankless roles. Bring Kleenex.

Regal Stadium 14, PG-13, 95 min.


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