The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Specials

Christmas TV specials, limited series and movies are bigger than ever these days from now until the New Year, you’ll be able to find some festive yule-tide programming every night of the week. From the traditional viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the different versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to baking shows and live music specials, we’ve got them all listed on the new Christmas TV Specials page. (Since not all of the networks list their specials early, this list will be updated throughout the coming weeks, so check back often for new additions!)

Elizabeth Banks Does it Again in People Like Us

Chris Pines, Elizabeth Banks and Michael Hall D'Addario
star in "People Like Us." Photo: Touchstone/Dreamworks


Elizabeth Banks has had quite a year so far. She played opposite Sam Worthington who played, “A Man on a Ledge,” the fluffy Effie Triket in “The Hunger Games,” a woman who knows everything about having a baby without ever having one in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” and now Frankie, the a woman who discovers she has a brother after her father dies in “People Like Us.” Is there anything this woman can’t do?

“People Like us” begins with Sam (Chris Pines), a shady salesman who is estranged from his parents Things are not going well for him at work when hears the news that his father passes away suddenly. Unmoved, Sam’s next thought is “What is for dinner?” Sam and his girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde), travel back home to be with his mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is none too pleased that he missed the funeral. Sam fully intends this to be a short trip, but an attorney contacts him and gives him a shaving bag that his father wanted him to have. In the bag sits $150,000 and a note asking him to give the money to a man named “Josh” and an address. After some investigating, Sam discovers that the man is actually a boy (Michael Hall D’Addario) and Josh’s mother is Sam’s half-sister that he never met. Tempted to keep the money for himself and to avoid the awkwardness of introducing himself to Frankie (Banks), Sam decides to wade slowly into the troubling waters instead. Sam makes the situation more difficult that he needs to by not being honest with his girlfriend, his mother, Frankie and his employer.

“People Like Us” was written and directed by Alex Kurtzman and built partially from his own life. Kurtzman met his own half-sister when he turned 30. It is a wonderful movie with an intriguing storyline. The acting is excellent and believable. Its greatest strength is showing how three troubled people get their lives back on track. Sam grew up with a terrible father. Frankie grew up wanting a father. Ironically, Frankie had a child out of wedlock and doesn’t know who Josh’s father is, so Josh is in the same boat. The movie details in a real way just how important a father is to his children. Without meaning to, both Sam and Frankie grew up reckless, just like their dad. Now, they want to make their lives matter but they aren’t quite sure how. Though not intentional, the story also gives an example of sins of the father being passed down to the next generation, but this generation wants to make them stop here.

Despite the fact that all of the actors featured in “People Like Us” are beautiful, the story comes off realistic. It is impressive that Michelle Pfeiffer can look beautiful and yet haggard at the same time. Pfeifer isn’t afraid to show a few wrinkles and though it is completely plausible that she is old enough to be Pine’s mother, it is hard to believe. Wilde comes off completely charming and definitely too good for Sam.

Perhaps the only real negative in “People Like Us” is a scene of marijuana use that looks like it is trying to make a political statement more than a part of the story. All in all, this is movie with great characters with real problems and hopeful solutions.

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