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Smart People
Movie Stats & Links

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page, Thomas Haden Church
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Miramax
Web Site:
Kiddie Movie: Nothing is horrible for them, but they'd be bored as hell.
Date Movie: Not too long and the ending is almost happy, but she better like artsy films.
Gratuitous Sex: The son, John, gets the most exciting action.
Gratuitous Violence: Nope.
Action: Nope.
Laughs: Lots of witty dialogue.
Memorable Scene: Christmas dinner.
Memorable Quote: "I appreciate the tip, Dr. Phil."
Directed By: Noam Murro
Produced By: Bridget Johnson, Michael Costigan, Michael London, Bruna Papandrea

Smart People
A Movie Review

MPAA Rated - R

It's 1:35 Long

A Review by
The Dude on the Right
Artsy movie alert! Artsy movie alert!

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!! L8R!!!


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