PEOPLE LIKE US "Yeah. We probably should've worn sunglasses."

SO YOU KNOW how people mock Garden State as an example of a directorial debut project gone... not exactly wrong, but overwrought? All first-time-director-y? People Like Us is very much the same deal.

There are the same close-ups of serious faces and slightly blurred objects that scream "I'm an artist," and, more notably, the plot is similar: a young man who isn't living life to the fullest receives news that a parent has suddenly died, and while dealing with tragedy, meets a woman who will change his life. The difference with this film is that instead of yelling into a crevasse with a manic Natalie Portman, Sam (Chris Pine, swoon) goes to AA meetings with a half-sister he never knew he had, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks, who I guess is just in everything now).

This family drama is inspired by true events, co-written and directed by Alex Kurtzman, a man responsible for writing some of the biggest blockbusters of the last five years: Transformers, Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek. "I met my own sister when I was 30, and it was something that really affected me and my life," he told me in a recent interview. "I knew when we were writing it that I was going to want to stay involved through to the end. It's so personal for me, and it's really been a labor of love."

Kurtzman was super nice and sincere, and his movie is one of the rare earnest films that comes out in blockbuster season. That said, I wish he'd ditched all of his swirly angles and (it pains me to say this) close-ups of Chris Pine's face and just let his sweet story do its job. If Kurtzman's trying to shake his big-budget reputation by doing something simple, he should have kept it simple.

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