The thing about the "black list" - an annual compilation of admired but unproduced scripts - is that "unproduced" does not always mean "undiscovered gem." Despite a widely admired script, People Like Us is just such an exception that proves the rule. For all its good intentions, this is sudsy melodrama with too many contrivances, and too few genuinely earned moments. Like many of these exercises, the film's weaknesses would be more glaring with lesser actors and worse direction, but an A list cast and good direction can't solve the central problems. Chris Pine has real star potential, but this isn't a great role; similarly for Elizabeth Banks. Michelle Pfeiffer is more of a sure thing, but she can't redeem the film's absurdities. What's left is a muddle, the outlines of a compelling family drama that never really compels.