Thursday, October 25, 2012

[In Flight] People Like Us

Room For Two

I haven't seen Chris Pine in a drama before, so this would introduce him to a genre that I cannot fathom him being in, at least not at a time when he's usually in safer, high octane genres such as the romatic comedy, science fiction, and the action adventure. But I suppose an actor relishes the challenge of not being stereotyped into a role, and beyond the pretty boy looks, People Like Us provides an avenue to demonstrate if he has some acting chops, or not.

Chris Pine plays Sam, a barter trade facilitator who, through a series of aggressive deals, finds himself in hot soup when external factors start to throw a spanner into his well oiled operations, and finds himself wanted by the authorities to answer to some dubious dealings, as well as his customers being none too happy about his non delivery on his professional promises. Worse, he gets news that his father just passed away, and while girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde) tries to get them on the first flight out to his family home, he tries his best to sabotage attempts, if only to continue hiding his pain and further his reluctance for reconciliation with family.

But they do get there, and there's where things start to get a little more interesting. We learn how estranged he is with his parents, especially since mom Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) greets him with a tight slap, and dad didn't leave him much. To rub salt into the wounds, his dad's last will and testament instructs him to deliver a bag full of money, to the tune of substantial thousands, that he has to give to his half-sister and nephew, people whose existence he has absolutely no idea about. So therein lies the dilemma, whether to be selfish and go against his conscience to embezzle the money, needing it to save his own skin, and since no one's there to check on him, or to do what's right and pass it on.

Curiosity got the better of Sam, and as he turns stalker into the lives of Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) and her oft bullied son Josh (Michael Hall D'Addario) who is the de facto misfit in school. Contact soon gets made, and with his best of intentions to keep his real identity and relations to Frankie and Josh a secret, this blows up quite unexpectedly, bordering on the cusp of near incest as Frankie's emotions start to get the better of her, since she's probably on the lookout for a father figure for her son, which now comes in the form of Sam. It's a little bit morbid to think of it, but I suppose dramas like these love to stretch some limits, especially when secrets got harboured on one side only.

So can Chris Pine do drama? Sure, if People Like Us is anything to go by. Perhaps he still got a lift in playing the cocky salesman who thinks he's infallible, only to find his fears of family relationships coming back to haunt him, and perhaps also serving as an avenue for redemption and the picking up on responsibility, something his character had never committed to. Elizabeth Banks seem to picking up a lot more bit roles of late, and this one didn't have her do much except to slowly open up in the wrong way, while Michael Hall D'Addario becomes the scene stealer with his rage against the entire world attitude.

Having the likes of Olivia Wilde and Michelle Pfeiffer in small supporting roles didn't detract from the film's main intent to examine the building of ties between Sam, Frankie and Josh, and it surely goes well to say that blood will almost always run thicker than water. It has star power alright, but it didn't lift it beyond the average drama that it is.

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