I was lucky enough to preview Disney Pictures and Dreamworks’ latest picture, People Like Us. Based on true events, the movie tells the story of Sam (Chris Pine), who discovers he has a sister and nephew when his father passes away, and how this startling information changes all their worlds completely. Frankie, Sam’s sister, is played to perfection by Elizabeth Banks, and newcomer Michael Hall D’Addario steals the show as 12-year-old Josh. The drama/comedy also stars Olivia Wilde and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Sam, Frankie and Josh bond almost instantly, though Sam is the only one in on the secret that they are related. Without revealing any spoilers, several circumstances force Sam to face issues within his closest relationships, including his mom and girlfriend. He is also faced with coming to terms with the past, and trying to figure out what to do with his future. And, of course, figuring out how and when to tell Frankie that they are brother and sister.
I also had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Banks at a round table press event. She shared how she prepared for the role of Frankie, and provided some wonderful insight regarding her character. She drew a lot from her sister’s experience as a single mom with two kids, as well as attended AA meetings to prepare for the role. The stories of recovering and former alcoholics gave her an understanding of why Frankie was the person she was. Frankie seems like a tough cookie, but Elizabeth explains that Frankie covers up so much of her weakness with strength.
Elizabeth is now a mother to a 15 month old son, so I asked her what her opinion was on the choices Frankie makes for her and her son’s well-being throughout the movie. She responded that Frankie made choices that were right for her and her son, given their circumstances. When asked what advice she had for mothers in similar situations, she said: “everyone needs help. Have family where you can find it”. As a mother, I agree completely that a support system is a must, whether it’s a spouse, parent, or friend.
Written by Alex Kurtzman, Bob Orci and Jody Lambert, it took several years for this story to come to life. All three have personal ties to the story, so the creation of the screenplay was a very organic process. The trio allowed it to evolve until it was just right. While this is Alex Kurtzman’s directorial debut, there was no question he would be directing. Says Kurtzman: “I really felt like this movie was such a part of me that I couldn’t even begin to imagine someone else directing it.”
People Like Us is a welcome change from the typical over-the-top summer films. It is a story about complex characters in an uncommon circumstance, yet their relatability will pull you in, and it provides a refreshing reminder of the importance of family, in whatever form it presents itself. I highly recommend seeing People Like Us, in theaters June 29th.
Disclosure: Disney Pictures provided me with admission to a pre-screening for People Like Us, as well as the opportunity to attend the round table press day with Elizabeth Banks. Thank you! (And thanks to Leanette for the picture!)