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People Like Us (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 120 minutes.

OK for children.

Not many people saw the 2005 indie Heights, but I thought it one of the best of the year and marked Elizabeth Banks as a real comer, not just a pretty face (and she is probably the most beautiful woman in Hollywood

She has since appeared in lots of films, but never as the lead. Here she finally gets to strut her stuff, and she exceeds my expectations.

Based on writer/director Alex Kurtzman's background, Frankie (Banks) is a 30-year old unwed mother of 11-year old Josh (Michael Hall D'Addario). She is a recovering alcoholic working as a bartender, barely making ends meet. Sam (Chris Pine) is in his 20s, a smooth (or not so smooth) salesman in deep trouble on a business deal when he learns his estranged father has died. When he reluctantly returns for the funeral, he discovers the existence of Frankie, who is his half-sister from an affair of his father, and things spiral onward from there.

Congratulations to Disney and Dreamworks for making and distributing an American movie that actually has a story, emotions, great acting and directing and not even the hint of a special effect or a superhero.

I think that 2 hours is too long for a movie of this sort, but this passed the watch test with flying colors as I never was cognizant of time passing. While part of that is the sheer enjoyment of looking at Banks' beauty, most of it is the excellence and tenderness of the story and the wonderful acting by the principals, Banks, Pine, D'Addario, Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays Sam's mother, and Olivia Wilde, who plays Sam's girlfriend at the beginning of the film.

Los Angelenos will appreciate some of the familiar city locations.

I'm closing my critique with something that has nothing to do with the film but everything to do with the people who achieve stardom in Hollywood. ). I understand from a friend who was there that when Banks accepted an award for Best Actress at the Maui Film Festival she dropped an F bomb in front of an audience that included lots of children. If this is true, and I have no reason to believe that it isn't, she needs someone to counsel her about class, refinement, good taste, and responsibility. Shame on you, Elizabeth.