‘People Like Us,’ perfect film for parents

%27People+Like+Us%2C%27+perfect+film+for+parents
We tend to love our families despite their flaws and insane behavior. We will take tiny abuses time after time, because hey, they love us, and sometimes the way they can’t stop interrupting one another has an endearing quality to it. Sometimes it drives us crazy, but it never is quite enough for us to give up on them completely.

So it is with “People Like Us,” a decent movie that gets a bit cliche at times, isn’t groundbreaking or terribly innovative, but makes us like it anyway. It’s just so much like us —  like the people we know and love — that we can’t help but get drawn in.

Sam (Chris Pine) is a typical avoid-the-family type who throws himself into a corporate job to escape the uncomfortable past of a bad father. His mistakes at work coincide with personal bankruptcy and the death of his father.

He arrives too late for the funeral, incurring the carefully restrained anger of his mother, wonderfully acted by Michelle Pfeiffer. A customary reading of the will reveals that Sam’s dad left $150,000 in cash to Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), his daughter by another woman, and her son Josh, played by Michael Hall D’Addario.

Sam finds his half-sister and his nephew and begins a relationship. Predictably, he keeps his true identity secret as they share tacos and snow crabs, and Sam becomes a mentor to Josh.

The storyline was typical, with some not-so-surprising twists that nonetheless added depth. Banks and Pfeifer were remarkable in their roles, though perhaps it was because their characters were more developed, more flawed, and therefore easier to connect to.

Sam’s emotional path was predictable, full of overdone drinking binges and a marijuana-fueled heart-to-heart with his mom.

“I didn’t like the cliche of the alcohol-fueled grieving,” said viewer Steve Miller. “There were some things that could have been done better.”

The use of sound to evoke emotion was particularly well done. The clink of dishes in the sink, the buzz of an electric lightbulb in the linen closet, the silence between polite exchanges of conversation all made the audience really feel like they were back home, visiting mom after years of absence.

Like most inane family dramas, serious though it may be, everything turns out alright in the end. Mistakes are made by our parents, we try to fix them, and then we make mistakes with our kids — the overarching theme being that family is important, now matter how flawed. You don’t give up on family, because if you give them a chance, you might just like them.