Movie Stats & Links
||Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica
Parker, Ellen Page, Thomas Haden Church
horrible for them, but they'd be bored as hell.
||Not too long and
the ending is almost happy, but she better like artsy films.
||The son, John,
gets the most exciting action.
||Lots of witty
||"I appreciate the
tip, Dr. Phil."
Michael Costigan, Michael London, Bruna Papandrea
Artsy movie alert! Artsy movie alert!
A Movie Review
Normally reviewers give "Spoiler alerts" when they are
revealing a major plot point in a movie to stop you from
reading so as not to ruin your movie going experience. I
figure if you hate artsy movies, well, you can probably stop
reading now because there is no way in hell you will see
"Smart People," especially since it isn't good
enough for me to encourage you otherwise. Go ahead, get on with
your day, unless you get shear enjoyment just from my
reviews. So, letís get to the movie.
"Smart People" gives us Dennis Quaid as Lawrence
Wetherhold. Heís a literature professor at Carnegie Mellon
University in Pittsburgh. His wife has died, he canít get
his book published, his fellow professors donít like him,
and neither do his students. His adopted brother, Chuck
(Thomas Haden Church) is back in his life looking for
handouts and a place to live, his daughter, Vanessa (Ellen
Page) is a 17 year old "Young Republican" with no friends,
and his son (Ashton Homes) is in college and seems just as
dysfunctional as the rest of the family. This is probably
enough of a group of people to develop a story around, but
hey, letís toss in a head injury where Lawrence is treated
in the ER by a former student, Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker),
who had a thing for him when she was a Freshman, and yup, on
comes the romantic relationship.
As the story progresses we find Lawrence still wrestling
with the death of his wife but excited about the prospect of
sleeping with Janet, and it almost seems a little creepy,
especially when we learn Janet has a history of mentally
destroying men. And if thatís not creepy enough there is
Vanessa developing a crush on her Uncle Chuck (which she
justifies because with his being adopted, well, heís not a
blood relative), him not helping matters by opening her up
to some derelict behavior, and you get the sense that Chuck
would sleep with Vanessa except he keeps the uncle/niece
barrier in place.
By the end of it all the normal "weíre getting better as
a family and becoming not so dysfunctional" turn starts to
happen, and even though these people may not live happily
ever after, at least now they are on a better path.
What worked for me in "Smart People" was the
interaction/relationship that developed between Chuck and
Vanessa, even though creepy as hell. Vanessa really needed
someone to bring her out of her solitary lifestyle, and who
better than the stoner, loser uncle, and the stoner, loser
uncle needed someone to make him realize that he is okay
with the way his life has turned out, yet needs to learn
that taking your 17 year old niece to a bar might not be the
best of choices. What also worked for me was that the
writing was pretty funny at times, giving Vanessa a quick
wit, delivered smartly by Ellen Page, and Thomas Haden
Church brought near perfection to the loser, stoner role.
What didnít work, oddly enough, was that the character of
Lawrence was almost given a "here is the epitome of the
disheveled, disgruntled, canít have a normal conversation
with anyone" literature professor, and even though Sarah
Jessica Parker did a nice enough job as Janet, for me her
character seemed almost unnecessary except for causing the
perceived "Sheís not my mom" rift between father and
daughter. Some might say she was necessary to get Lawrence
to come out of his shell, but really his son and brother do
the job better.
For the wit and delivery of the fantastic Ellen Page, and
the solid performance of Thomas Haden Church, I recommend
"Smart People," but for the over-stereotypical way they
tried to show Lawrence the literature professor, and the
fact I would have almost preferred they just kept this movie
about the family and not introducing the romantic interest
of Janet, I toss out some recommendation. Ending it all up,
Iím giving "Smart People" 3 Ĺ Stars out of 5. If you like an
artsy film and want to catch a matinee, go ahead and hit the
theater. Otherwise you can probably wait for the DVD rental
on this one.
Thatís it for this one! Iím The Dude on the Right!!