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Screenwriter Alex Kurtzman on 'People Like Us'

Alex Kurtzman is best known for writing Big Summer Movies, the so-called tent pole films. If it has a Roman numeral in the title — “Transformers,” “Star Trek,” “Mission Impossible” — there’s a good chance that Alex and his writing partner Roberto Orsi are involved.

June 29 marks the release of “People Like Us,” a different kind of Kurtzman film: one he not only wrote, but directed and, more importantly, lived.

In “People,” Sam (Chris Pine) is a shady, fast-talking salesman who learns his father has died, forcing Sam’s reluctant return to California and his estranged family. In fulfilling his father’s last wishes, he discovers a 30-year-old half-sister (Elizabeth Banks) and young nephew (Michael Hall D’Addario) he knew nothing about. How they get to know each other and work pass the deceit that separated them is at the heart of this film.

Yes, it sounds suspiciously like a Lifetime Movie of the Week, and even begins with a placard testifying that it is “inspired by true events.” But in fact it is a thoughtfully constructed and extremely well acted film — Michelle Pfeiffer and Olivia Wilde round out the top-flight cast — and is one of the most intelligent pictures of a summer overstuffed with, yes, comic book tent pole movies. There’s not an autobot in sight.

As for the “true events”: Growing up, Kurtzman, 38, knew his father had another family and that he had half siblings that he never met. He spoke to The Arty Semite about his missing family, an unexpected reunion and a joint bar mitzvah.

Curt Schleier: It must have been strange growing up knowing you had a half-brother and half-sister, but never meeting them.

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Screenwriter Alex Kurtzman on 'People Like Us'

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