This road to redemption is a contrived and boring one
Veteran writer/producer Alex Kurtzman's debut behind the camera is a soapy comedy drama so laden down with music references that it plays like Cameron Crowe adapting a Nicholas Sparks novel.
It also drags on way too long, but perks up a bit when Elizabeth Banks arrives on screen in one of those sassy single mom barmaid roles that Hollywood actresses love to emote in every so often.
But first we meet wheeler-dealer Sam (Chris Pine, aka the young Captain Kirk), who's something of a scumbag. A fast- talking, sharp-suited New York salesman with a flexible approach to ethics, he's deep in debt and has just screwed up a big deal when his lovely, long-suffering girlfriend Hannah (Olivia Wilde) delivers a bombshell: "Your dad died." After processing this information for all of two seconds, Sam asks, "What's for tea?"
Nobody introduces a character like that without inflicting a Big Movie Comeuppance upon them. And so it proves as Sam very reluctantly goes back to LA and his sour mum Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer) for the funeral. Then the family lawyer produces an old shaving bag stuffed with $150,000 and a note from dead neglectful dad instructing Sam to deliver it to someone named Josh. Across town, he discovers that Josh (Michael Hall D'Addario) is a cocky 11-year-old kid who's just blown up his school swimming pool. The boy's recovering alcoholic mother Frankie (Banks) turns out to be the half-sister Sam never knew he had.
For no obvious reason, Sam doesn't declare the truth immediately. Instead, the script has him worm his way into the lives of Josh and Frankie, becoming a surrogate father and strictly platonic partner (no incestuous funny business here).
You might be forgiven for thinking that this is another scumbaggy thing to do, but the film would clearly prefer us to see it as Sam's path to redemption. During the long trudge to the contrived ending of this boilerplate slice of awards-bait, score a point every time someone declares: "I am not going to have this conversation with you!" before having that very conversation.