People Like Us Parent Guide
This adult drama may be one of the first films to explore infidelity from the point of view of the children. Secrets, emotional avoidance and abandonment are the foundation this family is built on.
Parent Movie Review
In a recent post, an advice columnist replied to a young person who discovered his father’s infidelity. She wrote, “This is your parents’ business, not yours.—It’s best forgiven and forgotten by you.”
I have to disagree. Marital cheating impacts more than the adults involved and if ever there were an argument against being unfaithful, People Like Us is it.
Record producer Jerry Harper may be resting peacefully in his grave, but his life decisions continue to haunt those he left behind. Among the damaged mourners are his wife Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) and his estranged son Sam (Chris Pine). Inheriting his father’s extensive record collection seems like poor compensation for the young, fast-talking businessman who grew up with a distracted, distant dad. He was at least hoping for some cold, hard cash to help bail him out of his crushing debt. Instead his dad’s lawyer (Philip Baker Hall) hands Sam a shaving kit filled with wads of $100 bills and a note from his father instructing him to take the money to some kid he’s never heard of.
It turns out Sam has a sister.
Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), he discovers, is a struggling single mother with a precocious 11-year-old son named Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario) who just blew up the school’s swimming pool. Unsure how to introduce himself, Sam avoids that little nugget of truth. But this family’s penchant for lying hasn’t led to anything good in the past, nor will it now.
This adult drama may be one of the first films to explore infidelity from the point of view of the children and isn’t always pretty. Secrets, emotional avoidance and abandonment are the foundations this family is built on. Moving beyond them is painful and sometimes overplayed with sentiment. Whlle the characters’ growth is admirable, many of the activities they engage in aren’t.
Discovering his father’s medicinal marijuana, Sam deals with his disappointment by smoking the drug and consuming copious amounts of his dad’s liquor (in an extended scene). Later, in what is meant to be a bonding moment, Sam and his mother share another joint. Dealing with her own emotional distress, Frankie turns to her downstairs neighbor (Mark Duplass) for some quick, casual sex. And along with several sexually-charged comments about his babysitter (Gabriela Milla), Josh spouts off with a strong sexual expletive then takes his frustrations out on a classmate by pummeling him in the face with a textbook.
Based loosely on the life experiences of Director Alex Kurtzman ( Star Trek, Transformers, Mission Impossible III), this script follows a family whose dysfunctional history seems destined to be repeated unless they chose to leave the past behind.Directed by Alex Kurtzman. Starring Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde. Running time: 115 minutes. Theatrical release June 29, 2012. Updated July 8, 2016
People Like Us
Rating & Content Info
Why is People Like Us rated PG-13? People Like Us is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for language, some drug use and brief sexuality.
Violence: Characters repeatedly lie or avoid being truthful. A businessman bribes others. A woman slaps her adult son. A child steals a chemical and blows up a swimming pool. He is later pushed to the ground and threatened by classmates. A child is expelled after breaking another student’s nose with a textbook. A man drives dangerously on a residential street. A woman hits a man repeatedly before throwing him out of her apartment. A man has a verbal argument with his girlfriend.
Sexual Content: A woman wears low cut tops and short skirts. She admits to sleeping with many unnamed men and not knowing the identity of her child’s father. A woman questions a man’s sexual orientation. A character has casual sex with a neighbor as a way to deal with stress. A child makes several sexual comments about an older female teen.
Language: The script includes anatomical and crude terms. A strong sexual expletive and crude hand gesture are used by children. Frequent profanities, scatological slang and numerous terms of Deity are heard. A child makes several rude comments about adults.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters use medicinal marijuana for recreational purposes in several scenes. They are portrayed as being under the influences. Characters discuss their additions at a support group meeting. Alcohol use is depicted in numerous scenes. Characters smoke cigarettes on several occasions.
Other: A child attempts to shoplift. A trophy “pees” alcohol. Several flatulence jokes are included. A child gets in the car with an unknown adult male. A woman talks about being humiliated by her husband on several occasions.
Page last updated July 8, 2016
People Like Us Parents' Guide
Why has lying become such an ingrained part of this family that Sam’s mom even hides her cookies? How does dishonesty hurt their ability to be emotionally present for one another? How does the father’s infidelity individually impact everyone involved?
Is the depiction of Josh realistic? Why do some children in single parent homes take on more adult roles? What support does Frankie get from her neighbors? How does Frankie’s self-esteem impact the way she sees her possibilities for the future? Why do we often carry childhood disappointments with us into adulthood? What substances and activities does Frankie use to deal with her past?
What age demographic is this film aimed at? Do adults at some point have to leave behind the negative aspects of their past in order to create a better future? Is their past something Sam and Frankie should be able to move on from? How can they use their newfound relationship to help them? What role might Sam’s mother play in their relationship?
The most recent home video release of People Like Us movie is October 2, 2012. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: People Like Us
Release Date: 2 October 2012
People Like Us releases to home vide3o (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack) with the following bonus extras:
- Number One With A Bullet: The Story Behind People Like Us
- Taco Talk
- Deleted Scenes
- Audio Commentaries—With Director Alex Kurtzman, and Writer Jody Lambert and Director Alex Kurtzman, and Actors Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks
- Select Scene Commentary—With Director Alex Kurtzman And Actress Michelle Pfeiffe