All is not in the family in People Like Us

You’d never guess from the mushy trailer, but this debut feature by Alex Kurtzman tackles a knotty family situation with intelligence and compassion. A corporate hustler estranged from his parents (Chris Pine) reluctantly returns to Los Angeles after the death of his father, a lionized record producer, and discovers that the old man had a secret second family; when the son tracks down his half sister (Elizabeth Banks), a single mother and recovering alcoholic, he can’t bear to identify himself, and their growing friendship veers uncomfortably close to romance. This layer of deception only complicates further their respective resentment of the father, and as the action widens to include the protagonist’s widowed mother (Michelle Pfeiffer), the movie develops into a painful story of one generation inflicting its selfish compromises on the next. The three leads are uniformly excellent, and the strong supporting cast includes Mark Duplass and Philip Baker Hall.