PEOPLE LIKE US Movie Review “Parallels and Mirrors”

George Gensler attended an advanced screening of DreamWorks PEOPLE LIKE US and submitted this movie review.  DreamWorks Pictures presents PEOPLE LIKE US a story inspired by true events, Sam, a twenty-something, fast-talking salesman, is tasked with fulfilling his estranged father’s last wishes — delivering an inheritance to a sister he never knew he had.  The film opens nationwide on Friday, June 29, 2012.

"People Like Us" Photo by Zade Rosenthal © DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Review by George Gensler

PEOPLE LIKE US: Parallels and Mirrors

Full disclosure: I hate spoilers in reviews, so there won’t be any in this one.

This movie is all about the dialogue.  In the opening moments, before even the title appears on screen, we learn the essentials about the character of our hero (Sam) and he rides a rollercoaster of highs and lows, culminating in learning that he must return home, which is, clearly, a low for him.  Sam (Chris Pine) calls himself a “facilitator” and is obviously sales driven.  The pitch is a constant in his dialogue.  He is always selling, whether to clients, his boss, or his partner, Hannah (Olivia Wilde), who, though she appears on screen only for a short time, manages to convey his shallowness through her depth of character.  Thankfully, the high-pitched tone and pace of the opening settles down for the rest of the film, except, of course, when Sam is driving his dad’s beautiful red convertible with reckless disregard for the fabulousness of the machine.

"People Like Us" Photo by Zade Rosenthal © DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

The film explores the layers of relationship in the family – parallel lives and mirror lives.  Sam’s father sets him on a quest, which leads him to explore different ways of interacting with people.  Sam’s relationship with his mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) reveals more depth in his character, but the real transition occurs when he meets Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) and her son Josh (who comes into the film with a bang, literally).  Frankie, tough and smart and vulnerable, struggles with her own family issues, opening herself and her life to Sam, who maintains the pitch, but, now, selling by omission, seemingly unable to let it go.  As Sam finds the way to complete the quest, he opens up more and more, moving from a self-centered charmer to a man who sees value in others for more than just what they can do for him and learns, too, that he has something of value to offer others.

"People Like Us" Photo by Zade Rosenthal © DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

While the story is about Sam on the surface, it is also about his father Jerry.  Throughout the film, Jerry’s story is revealed and it is Jerry’s story that drives the surface story of the movie, even though we’re heavily invested in Sam and his experiences.  We see how much like his father Sam is, despite his attempts to distance himself from his family.  Without revealing too much, I will say that the most emotionally-gripping moment of the film is when the dialogue stops and action and character interaction are the focus – not because the dialogue hasn’t been emotional and evocative, because it has, but because, after all of the dialogue, this one moment stands out so much more on the strength of the dialogue that brought us to it.

“People Like Us” is kind of an odd title for this movie.  There is only one reference to it in the movie and it didn’t make a lot of sense, even in context.  I don’t know what else I would call it, but the connection seemed vague to me.

"People Like Us" Photo by Zade Rosenthal © DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC.

 

Because the film is dialogue-driven, the actors had to convey everything by expression and tone and they excelled.  I am a fan of Elizabeth Banks for her work on 30 Rock (which, as another dialogue-driven script, was great training for this part) and she was brilliant.  This was my first experience with Chris Pine and I was very impressed.  Michelle Pfeiffer (so hard to believe that she can be the mom of a grown man), of course, does a wonderful job, even with the one clunker of a line in the entire movie.  The soundtrack, by A.R. Rahman, fits well with the story and I’ll be checking out Sam’s music recommendations, too (in order: Gang of Four, Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Clash and Television).

"People Like Us" Photo by Zade Rosenthal © DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC.

 

While the subject of the movie is family, it is not a family film.  It’s a conversation starter for sure (my friends and I couldn’t stop talking about it as we left the theater, until we were forced to when we got on our separate subways to go home).  Just about any group seeing this movie will come away with something to think and talk about.  Families are layered and complex and this film represents that beautifully.

Bio: George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends.  She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents.  She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland.  Her first visit to Disney World was in early 1972 (first year).  She’s a huge runDisney fan and has legacy status at the Disneyland Half Marathon, the Tower of Terror 13K, and the Expedition Everest Challenge.  In 2010, she ran every runDisney race (including the 5k fun runs) earning 13 medals in 11 races.  She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises.  She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.

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About George Gensler

George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.