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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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.
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.