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Alex Kurtzman
Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Hall D'Addario, Olivia Wilde , Mark Duplass, Sara Mornell
Writing Credits:
Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jody Lambert

Find your family.

From DreamWorks Pictures, the studio that brought you The Help, comes the smart and witty drama People Like Us, featuring an all-star cast, including Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, award-winning Michelle Pfeiffer and Olivia Wilde. Sam (Pine) is a twenty-something, fast-talking salesman whose latest deal collapses the day he learns his father has suddenly died. Against his wishes, Sam is called home to put his father’s estate in order and reconnect with his estranged family. While there, he uncovers a startling secret that turns his entire world upside down — he has a 30-year-old sister he never knew existed. Complete with bonus material that reveals how people like us became People Like Us, this is an inspirational and touching movie everyone can relate to.

Box Office:
$16 million.
Opening Weekend
$4.255 million on 2055 screens.
Domestic Gross
$12.412 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Video Service
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 10/2/2012

• Audio Commentary with Director Alex Kurtzman and Actors Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks
• Audio Commentary with Director Alex Kurtzman and Writer Jody Lambert
• Select Scene Commentary with Director Alex Kurtzman and Actor Michelle Pfieffer
• “Number One With a Bullet: The Story Behind People Like Us” Featurette
• “Taco Talk” Featurette
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Bloopers
• Sneak Peeks
• Bonus DVD


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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People Like Us [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 16, 2012)

After working as screenwriter for action hits like Mission: Impossible 3, Transformers and Star Trek, Alex Kurtzman makes his directorial debut with 2012’s People Like Us. Slick, cocky Sam Harper (Chris Pine) works as a barter agent – and ends up in hock when he blows a big deal. When his father dies, he heads home not due to grief; estranged from his late dad, he seems completely unaffected by his passing. He tries to weasel out of the funeral, but along with his girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde), he finds himself back home anyway.

There he reunites with his mother Lillian (Michelle Pfieffer) and hopes for at least one silver lining: a substantial inheritance that’ll solve his financial problems. This doesn’t work out, as it turns out Sam’s dad gives all his money to young Josh Davis (Michael Hall D’Addario). He’s the son of a woman named Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), and Sam learns that she may be his half-sister. Sam debates how to break the news of their common parentage – and how/when to hand over the inheritance that he’s supposed to deliver.

To say the least, People offers a substantial change of pace from Kurtzman’s past work. He made his name with sci-fi and action, so the character-oriented People forces him to stretch his skills to a substantial degree.

Does Kurtzman pull off the change of pace? No, not really. While People never becomes a terrible movie, it’s too trite and contrived to make a mark.

People comes based on Kurtzman’s own life experiences, though the movie stretches them considerably for dramatic purposes. I have to assume the facts of Kurtzman’s life come with less potential entertainment value – and I hope they were less trite/more interesting.

While Kurtzman may nominally have created the movie as an extension of his own biography, it actually feels like it took its inspiration from another source: Rain Man. Because I’ve not yet screened the Blu-ray’s supplements, I don’t know if Kurtzman nods in the direction of that 1988 hit at all, but the two share more than a few similarities. You have the slick businessman who runs into a heap of financial trouble. His father dies and he learns he has a sibling he didn’t know existed. Bonding occurs, psychologists are consulted, secrets get revealed – and people tool around in classic convertibles.

I’m not a fan of Rain Man, largely due to the simplistic, heavy-handed nature of its story/characters, but I think it at least manages to provide better entertainment than the slow People. Much of the trouble comes from the film’s plodding development, as it seems to take forever to get anywhere.

Perhaps the filmmakers believe the pacing will allow them develop the characters, but this doesn’t succeed. Rather than use the time to bring out nuances in the personalities, the movie just reinforces various one-dimensional notions. Sure, the characters change as the movie goes, but they do so in predictable ways that add little to the experience.

And each and every one of the three leads starts out so unlikable that we never quite shake our initial impressions. Sam seems self-absorbed and opportunistic, Frankie feels pushy, and Josh offers a standard precocious/smart-but-troubled kid.

Those archetypes are fine, but the movie makes them such unpleasant personalities at the start that they never really recover. Are we supposed to respect Frankie when she sleazes her way out of her kid’s (deserved) expulsion? Are we supposed to bond with Josh when he offers “only in a movie” smart-aleck dialogue? Are we supposed to forgive all of Sam’s egotism because he has daddy issues?

Maybe, but we don’t. Sure, the movie warms up the characters as it progresses, but it never thaws them out enough to make them likable – or to allow us to care much what happens to them.

The nature of the Sam/Frankie interaction also seems odd. For all intents and purposes, the film follows a romantic comedy template. Sure, it’s more dramatic than most, but it gives us a prompt for a story that should end up with Sam and Frankie in each others’ arms.

Though that silly old notion of incest prevents this from actually happening, you’ll be forgiven if you still expect a Sam/Frankie coupling by the film’s end. This is a romantic flick in every way except for the lack of payoff, and it feels decidedly weird.

I respect Kurtzman for his attempt to break away from the action blockbusters on which he built his career, but I just can’t find much about People Like Us to embrace. It’s a paint by numbers drama with tonal issues.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

People Like Us appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a consistently pleasing presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed solid. A couple of wide shots looked a smidgen soft, but those were the exception to the rule, as the majority of the flick was accurate and detailed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, as the movie looked consistently clean.

Colors favored a golden tint typical for this kind of movie. Some scenes varied this palette – a more garish tone for nightclubs, and a chilly blue for nights – but the amber feel dominated. Within those parameters, the hues were positive. Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows showed good smoothness and clarity. I felt happy with the transfer.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of People, it lacked a ton of ambition. The soundfield focused on music and ambience, though it opened up on occasion. For instance, street scenes became a little more involving. Nothing especially memorable occurred, though.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music offered good clarity and range, and effects worked well enough. They didn’t have much to do, but they appeared reasonably accurate. All of this ended up as a perfectly satisfactory soundtrack for this sort of movie.

Although People bombed at the box office, the Blu-ray comes with quite a few extras. We find two separate audio commentaries, the first of which comes from director Alex Kurtzman and actors Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, the project’s origins and story development, characters, deleted scenes, and cast and performances.

Given the personnel found here, one might expect subjects about actors to dominate, and they do. Pine often states that he’s tired of talking about himself, and he proves that with limited involvement, though he adds some good details along the way.

Nonetheless, Banks and Kurtzman carry the track and do so in a satisfying manner. In particular, Banks is a hoot; she’s smart, saucy and funny. The commentary sags at times and come with more dead air than I’d like, but it still gives us enough quality material to merit a listen.

For the second chat, we hear from Alex Kurtzman and writer Jody Lambert. They sit together for another running, screen-specific discussion of many of the same subjects touched on in the first chat. However, as expected, script/story/character issues dominate.

And that’s a good thing, as it gives this commentary an insightful, introspective air. We learn about various real-life inspirations as well as changes made to the project over its long gestational period. Kurtzman and Lambert interact nicely in this smooth, informative piece.

We also find a Select Scene Commentary from Kurtzman and actor Michelle Pfeiffer. Their chat accompanies 35 minutes, 17 seconds of the film, as the pair talk about cast/character areas, inspirations and other topics. As the third commentary, this one becomes redundant on occasion, but it still has a fair amount of unique information. It’s nice to hear Pfeiffer’s perspective as well.

Next comes the 14-minute, 28-second Number One With a Bullet: The Story Behind People Like Us. It includes info from Kurtzman, Pine, Lambert, Pfeiffer, Banks, writer/producer Roberto Orci, producer Bobby Cohen, and actor Olivia Wilde. “Bullet” looks at aspects of the movie’s roots and development, script, story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and general thoughts. After two and a half commentaries, we don’t get much new information here. Still, “Bullet” moves at a good pace, so it’s a decent program.

Under Taco Talk, we find a four-minute, 51-second reel. It shows outtakes from the “taco scene” with Banks and Pine. I like to see alternate takes, so this becomes an enjoyable collection.

Five Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of 18 minutes, 25 seconds. (That total includes introductions from Kurtzman as well.) Deleted scenes often come at the expense of supporting roles, and that’s the case here. Olivia Wilde is the biggest loser from these cuts; she dominates the clips and lost a fair amount of screen time due to their omission. A few other minor character moments also crop up here, but don’t expect anything essential; the final film’s already sluggish, so these little tidbits would’ve made it even slower.

Finally, we get a collection of Bloopers. This section occupies three minutes, 54 seconds with a pretty standard batch of mistakes and silliness, though we also get some alternate lines from Pine. Those help make it more interesting than usual.

The disc opens with ads for The Help and various ABC TV series on home video. Under Sneak Peeks, we find promos for Castle and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. No trailer for People shows up here.

A second disc provides a DVD Copy of People. This gives us a retail version with a few extras.

Loosely based on real events, People Like Us lacks much real drive or drama. It presents trite characters and suffers from an oddly romantic tone that doesn’t fit its family-oriented tale. The Blu-ray delivers very good visuals, decent audio and a nice roster of bonus materials. The Blu-ray presents it well, but the movie remains forgettable.

Viewer Film Ratings: -- Stars Number of Votes: 0
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