People Like Us

People Like Us

(M) WDHE DVD

The irony of the title of this film is that I don’t think anybody is even remotely likes the characters in this dysfunctional family drama. But one has to concede that, because this is “based on a true story”, that it actually happened. To somebody.

This is about a fraudulent yuppie entrepreneur (Chris Pine), who hates his artist mother and rock producer father, but revisits Mum (Michelle Pfeiffer) after Dad’s death.

Mercenarily hoping to inherit some money, our dislikeable hero is handed a bag containing $150,000 and told to take care of an 11-year-old nephew (Michael Hall D’Addario) and the grown-up sister (Elizabeth Banks) he never knew he had.

Will he take the money and run or do the decent thing? He takes an inordinately long time to make up his mind and makes too many odd decisions to allow a willing viewer to care what actually happens to him.

Despite the fact that the characters are abrasive, there’s some smart — in the “do people actually talk this way in real life” vein — dialogue, particularly the endearingly self-deprecating 11-year-old nephew.

As usual, Elizabeth Banks gives a terrific performance (those who have seen the actor’s work know she could read the phone book and make it interesting) and is never better than when sniping at the pretension on display. When our “hero” tells her he’s a “facilitator”, she says, “You’re sent from the future to kill me?”

The dysfunctional family genre reached its Oscar-winning apogee with Ordinary People. There are some take home themes surrounding fatherhood and family but these seem, like the film itself, a little too unreal to be true.

Adrian Drayton

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