By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com March 29, 2012 at 8:29AM
We're only about a month away from the start of the summer movie season, and the onslaught of noisy, effects-heavy pictures that come with it. As such, more dramatic films, movies about human beings rather than robots or aliens, are about to get a little thin on the ground, but with the right placement, such a picture can prove to be an antidote to blockbusters and make a quiet killing, as "The Help" did last year. This year, one of the films attempting to fill that gap is "People Like Us," the directorial debut of Alex Kurtzman, a man who's been used to far bigger-budget fare thanks to his co-writing work on films like "Mission Impossible 3," "Transformers," "Star Trek" and "Cowboys & Aliens."
The film, formerly known as "Welcome To People," and penned by Kurtzman, writing partner Roberto Orci and Jody Lambert, suffered through rumors that Disney were trying to get out of its distribution obligation. But it soon surfaced with a release date at the end of June, and now a trailer has arrived (via Moviefone), giving us our first look at the film. The drama stars Chris Pine as a man with money troubles who discovers that his father, a famous record producer, has passed away. He's left with the task of delivering over $100,000 to a mysterious woman (Elizabeth Banks) and her son, and soon discovers that she's actually a half-sister that he never knew about.
From this brief glimpse at least, it looks as though we'll be in for some strong performances (Banks' role in particular was sought after, with Amy Adams and Hilary Swank among those who considered taking on the part), with the cast also including Michelle Pfieffer as Pine's mother, Olivia Wilde as his girlfriend, Jon Favreau as his boss, and Philip Baker Hall and Mark Duplass in other roles. But it all looks rather generic, to be honest -- a glossier, studio-mandated version of a Sundance comedy-drama.
That being said, we quite liked the script, and unless it got softened a lot before shooting, there are some complexities, particularly regarding Banks' character, that the Disney/DreamWorks marketing machine are sweeping under the rug. Nevertheless, the film has a fight on its hands to get noticed -- not only will it have to compete with bigger blockbuster fare, but it also hits the same weekend as Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike," acclaimed Sundance hit "Beasts Of The Southern Wild" and Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz." Will it end up falling between two stools, not commercial enough for wide audiences, not edgy enough for cineastes? Or is this the sleeper critical and commercial hit of the warm season? We'll find out when it comes to theaters on June 29th. Watch the trailer below.