People Like Us

  • Review Date: June 26, 2012
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012

Common Sense Media says

Sentimental drama is well acted but too mature for tweens.
  • Review Date: June 26, 2012
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Even though it's quite a sad story at first, People Like Us does have positive messages about the power of family, particularly brother-sister relationships. Siblings, the movie emphasizes, are the only people in the world who know what it's like to grow up with the same parent(s). Blended families should know that, in the film, a wife forced her husband to ignore the child he had from an extramarital affair; as a result, a half brother and sister grow up not knowing each other. Sam's journey is one of redemption, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

Positive role models

People Like Us is filled with flawed characters who still have something to offer viewers. Sam is a slightly unethical compulsive liar who eventually becomes a caring brother and loving uncle. Frankie is a former alcoholic who isn't sure how to manage her son, but she realizes by the end that what's important is being there for him.

Violence

Frankie beats up Sam and gives him a pretty obvious bruise on the eyebrow. Sam's mother slaps him after he misses his father's funeral. Josh punches a classmate and breaks his nose and also pours sodium in the pool, which causes a dangerous explosion.

Sex

Frankie has a quickie with her friend. They keep most of their clothes on but grunt and moan for the few seconds of the scene. Sam and Hannah kiss a few times. At one point, before she realizes they're brother and sister, Frankie attempts to kiss Sam.

Language

A couple of "f--k"s -- one said by an 11-year-old -- as well as "s--t," "bulls--t," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), "damn," "d--k," "prick," "ass," "a--hole," "hell," "oh my God," and more.

Consumerism

Sam's iPhone makes several appearances. Other brands include Starbucks, Converse, Virgin America, Volkswagen Jetta, Entenmann's cookies, Los Angeles Times, and Minute Maid. A host of famous New Wave and classic rock artists are also mentioned: Elvis Costello, Joy Division, The Clash, Gang of Four, Television, Joni Mitchell, the Faces, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One of the main characters is an alcoholic who's sober but discusses her past struggles with substance abuse. She's also a bartender, which sounds a bit unhealthy, but she's shown mixing and serving drinks (never having one), and she smokes a lot.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that People Like Us is a drama that tackles mature themes, including adultery, abandonment, and the loss of a father. Starring two actors who are popular with both teens and adults (Star Trek's Chris Pine and The Hunger Games' Elizabeth Banks), the story follows two long-lost half siblings who discover each other after their father's death. Strong language includes a couple of "f--k"s (one of which is said by an 11-year-old), and a kid punches a classmate and blows up his pool as a joke. A single mother has a quickie with a friend (no nudity), and two adults kiss a few times. An alcoholic mentions her past struggles with substance abuse and promiscuity, and a dead man's many flaws (infidelity, lying, leaving a child behind) are discussed over and over again. Blended families may bristle at the way a man and his wife dealt with his child from an extramarital relationship.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Smooth-talking Manhattan salesman Sam (Chris Pine) has just found out he's in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission when his father dies. He purposely misses his father's funeral but still travels to California with his girlfriend, Hannah (Olivia Wilde), to visit his estranged mother (Michelle Pfeiffer). Sam's father, Jerry, a famous music producer, has bequeathed him his extensive record collection -- and the task of finding a boy named Josh, to whom he's left $150,000 in cash. Devastated by the news, Sam considers keeping the money until he discovers that Josh's mother, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) -- a recovering alcoholic and single mother -- is the half sister Sam never knew he had. Sam then ingratiates himself in Frankie and Josh's lives without letting on that he's their brother/uncle.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Pine and Banks (she especially) are the kind of charming performers who are ridiculously likable -- even in otherwise bland films or forgettable roles. PEOPLE LIKE US, which was directed by Transformers screenwriter Alex Kurtzman, isn't mediocre; it's got an interesting premise and a winning chemistry between the leads. The problem is that when Sam decides not to tell Frankie he's her brother, he violates the sacred Jerry Maguire rule of messing with a single mother. Frankie inevitably falls for Sam -- as would any woman in the presence of Pine's outrageously handsome face and selfless interest in her behaviorally challenged child. That one choice is so unforgivably misguided and, frankly, unbelievable, that it's hard not to cheer when Frankie beats him up after discovering his secret.

But even the fundamental flaw of Sam allowing Frankie to believe that he was just a gorgeous dream guy helping out an attractive single mom doesn't completely ruin People Like Us -- precisely because Pine and Banks are such endearing actors. Before the big reveal, the two get to know each other through deep conversations over tacos, laundry duty, and sodas at a hip hotel bar. Sam also becomes a fatherly figure to precocious middle schooler Josh, who's wise and witty beyond his years (another bit of inauthenticity). They bond mostly via music history instruction, which Sam gladly provides by extolling the virtues of vinyl and New Wave legends like the Clash. Even with its many missteps (the excellent, nuanced You Can Count on Me, this is not), People Like Us' performances make it a sibling drama worth seeing.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how People Like Us portrays parent-child issues. Which parent and child have/had the healthiest relationship? How are parents and kids typically depicted in the media?

  • Does Josh seem like a believable 11-year-old? How does the movie depict tween angst? What are the consequences of his acting out at school?

  • It seems like many movies are about misguided adults who become better people by getting to know a kid. Do you think there are enough multi-generational stories in movies?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 29, 2012
DVD release date:October 2, 2012
Cast:Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde
Director:Alex Kurtzman
Studio:Touchstone Pictures
Genre:Drama
Topics:Brothers and sisters
Run time:115 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language, some drug use and brief sexuality

This review of People Like Us was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byMelandtom July 31, 2012
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Very real...good message

I thought it had a needed message..that dysfunctional families can deal with their pasts and heal and have love & respect for each other bringing bonds that may never have been if they hadn't honestly faced their difficult times and perhaps missed out on a blessing by staying in denial or untruths about their past or relationships...I thought it had a good message.

What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written bylab909 July 4, 2012
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

people like us:)

i really liked this movie! sam is a good role model, although he makes a few mistakes throughout the movie. and frankie is just trying to do the best for her son. there was some language including the F word like twice. and frankie and her friend obviously do "it" but absolutely nothing is shown it's just obvious. the violence wasn't really a problem either, just a few punches here and there between different characters. and frankie works at a bar and is a recovered alcoholic but there isn't really any drinking. overall it's a great movie and i loved it. it will make you laugh, cry, etc.

What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byjoshua martinez October 26, 2012
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

14 and up.

people like us is a great drama movie stars with Chris pine from the movie star trek but this drama movie has heavy themes such as adultery, abandonment, and the loss of a father that maybe too much for your young kids kids to handle and parents you need to know that people like us has some mild violence some brief sexuality some strong language used and some drinking used overall this movie does have a positive message about the power of family, particularly brother-sister relationships.

What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families