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Brother Undercover

A sci-fi vet makes a slick, wholesome family drama

In his directorial debut, Alex Kurtzman (who co-wrote Star Trek and Cowboys & Aliens) dials it down with a fairly conventional dysfunctional-family tale. But People Like Us is shot and edited with such jittery energy that it feels like a court-ordered sci-fi detox.

Sam (Chris Pine) is a slick salesman whose buzz gets harshed by his father’s death. When he learns his father left him $150K and instructions to deliver it to his heretofore-unknown half-sister Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), Sam begins stalking her and her troubled son in vaguely creepy, yet miraculously character-specific ways. Because Sam, for reasons unexplained, refuses to reveal his mission to Frankie, she interprets his interest in her as romantic.

The movie looks great and feels lived-in, especially by Pine and Banks, who are so charismatic and innately intelligent that they can make almost any plot mechanism seem organic. Sam has a long road to haul if he wants respectability, and Pine makes him earn it. --Justin Strout

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