People like Us

Fri, Nov 9, 2012, 00:00

Directed by Alex Kurtzman. Starring Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Jon Favreau, Michelle Pfeiffer 12A cert, general release, 114 min

THERE IS A particular type of bad movie that could only be made in America. Film-makers in that country have a greater belief in the possibility of change than is usual in other parts of the globe. Are you a selfish fathead? Never mind. Think good thoughts and, by next week, you will be a kindly genius.

This deeply annoying film, whose most remarkable achievement is that it came into being without the assistance of Nicholas Sparks, wallows in creative reinvention. Chris Pine plays a heartless businessmen whose wretchedness, as in all such American films, is rooted in poor experiences from his early life.

When his boozy, philandering dad dies, Chris tries to avoid going to the funeral, but eventually relents and is forced to exchange unpleasant grimaces with flinty mum Michelle Pfeiffer.

The old man’s lawyer reveals dad’s eccentric final request: the son is to take a large sum of cash to a single mom elsewhere in LA. It transpires that the woman (Elizabeth Banks) is Chris’s half-sister. Can you see this coming? Yes, indeed. Chris fails to spill the beans and an odd relationship develops.

The unfortunate audience is then left in plot limbo for two hours while we wait for Pine to tell Banks the awful truth. It’s possible, of course, that she will then return to booze and he will return to being a professional bastard. After all, that’s what would happen if the film had been made in Austria.

Don’t count on it. The hazy light bounces hopefully off the palm trees. The poster looks like the cover of a self-help book. Ms Pfeiffer tears up in expectation of positive epiphany.

It’s enough to make the average European cynic vomit.