In “People Like Us,” street-wise salesman Sam (Chris Pine) finds his latest deal collapsing on the same day he learns that his father has suddenly died. Against his wishes, Sam is called home, where he must put his father’s estate in order and reconnect with his estranged family. In the course of fulfilling his father’s last wishes, Sam uncovers a startling secret that turns his entire world upside-down: He has a 30-year-old sister Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) whom he never knew about. As their relationship develops, Sam is forced to rethink everything he thought he knew about his family—and re-examine his own life choices in the process.
Pfeiffer describes the film as “Ultimately it’s about family skeletons and forgiveness and healing. It’s a drama but there is a lot of humor in it. In the beginning, Lillian and her son Sam are both just shut down from each other, from themselves and from life. They have both, in very different ways, retreated from really living, feeling, experiencing and interacting.
“One of the messages this movie sends is that we’re all running around with secrets, not talking about everything we should be talking about,” Pfeiffer adds.” We all think we are the only ones that go through this, but in reality there are a lot of “people like us.”
The filmmakers were all fans of Michelle Pfeiffer so when she responded positively to the screenplay and the part of Lillian, they were delighted and excited to work with her. Writer-director Alex Kurtzman recalls his first meeting with the famed actress: “I knew after one minute of sitting down with Michelle that we were going to be utterly connected to each other and that she was going to give a performance that was totally unselfconscious and totally true. I walked out of the meeting thinking, I am so lucky to have this woman playing this part. She is so amazing and every day on set together was a gift for me.”
Pfeiffer admits that the unique story was a major attraction to the project for her. “They don’t make a lot of movies like this anymore and I think there’s a real appetite for it,” she concludes. “Given the cast and the subject matter, it will appeal to a really wide range. People are always looking for something that moves them in some way, whether you’re making them laugh or you’re making them cry. This one does both.”