I recently had the opportunity to screen the movie “People Like Us.” I brought my oldest daughter with me. I’d seen it advertised as a summer “feel good” movie, but to me it was more than that. It was a tough, thought provoking and well acted movie. Not once did I see “Kirk” in (the very handsome) Chris Pine. He became Sam, a sleazy fast talking salesman with questionable ethics at first, and then Sam the grown boy who still reeled from the lack of a real relationship with his father. (I have to say that the “mom” in me kept wishing he would shave…) Similarly Elizabeth Banks was credible in her role of Frankie, a recovering alcoholic and single mother, and her anger and her pain were palpable throughout the movie. Every member of the cast from Michelle Pfeiffer to Jon Favreau was great, but it was Michael Hall D’Addario who stole the scenes in which he was present. D’Addario played Josh the tough acting, street savvy and yet vulnerable son of Frankie. My daughter instantly took to him, and identified with the routine experiences which make middle school so difficult even without the extreme conditions of his life. He was excellent.
The film made me feel uncomfortable at points, but I suspect this was by design. To be honest, I might not have brought my 13 year old with me if I had known the circumstances around the existence of Frankie, “Sam’s” newly discovered sister. I thought, perhaps, that the material might be too complex for her to handle. Curiously however, the parallels drawn between the mistakes that “Josh” (Frankie’s son) makes in the film became the medium through which she came to understand the main themes of the film – that people make mistakes, and are sometimes the victims of other people’s mistakes, but that no matter how bad those mistakes might be, it is possible to rise above them and find peace. I recognized a subtler theme. People make mistakes, sometimes even in wanting to protect others.
I expected to do a lot of “splaining” as we left the theater. But she didn’t ask any questions, relating stories instead of other kids she knew with difficult lives. In fact, she actually told me that she realized how fortunate she was to have such a wonderful family, and I thought the same as we drove home. I expect to see more wonderful work from these actors, as well as from director Alex Kurtzman.
I was not paid or asked to write about the movie People Like Us. I am writing this post because I enjoyed the movie, and because I am grateful for having been provided with a chance to see it in preview by the fine folks at Disney.