Film Review

Smart People

Noam Murro’s feature debut, Smart People is a unimaginative adaptation of a crass, close-minded, and condescending script by Mark Poirier. It was very difficult to sit through a film that only set out to show you that some people are beyond arrogant. Smart People sports a cast that should have helped the affability of the film, but aside from Thomas Haden Church, there was very little redemption from the actors.

Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) is a widower, whose very name suggests pomposity, who cannot seem to understand anything colloquial. Friendship, family, and pure common sense go way over this Carnegie Mellon English professor’s head. I guess the plot is supposed to show a transformation from presumptuous to modest? I never saw a change, just a few coincidences that led the script supervisor to believe that he was a changed man.

The characters you are actually able to like, are hated by the ones you aren’t. For example, Chuck Wetherhold (Thomas Haden Church), is Lawrence’s humbly intelligent but ordinary adopted brother who moves in with him after his latest pyramid scheme fails. His few scenes were very humorous and enlightening, yet this was met by Lawrence’s disapproval of him until only about five minutes remained in the movie. At this point, I was so far past trying to like Quaid’s “protagonist” (if you can call it that).

Ellen Page, who I thought was very deserving of her Academy Award® nod in 2007’s Juno, was absolutely irritating as Lawrence’s daughter, Vanessa. I hope it was just how the character was written, but her desperate and conceited game got old after her third or fourth scene, when it stopped being endearing.

Now, I guess this was a romance, but it was so painfully unromantic that I will just label it as a drama. Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker’s characters are so unbelievably wrong for each other, you wonder why that thread was even included. If this had been a story about two estranged brothers, like it originally played out to be, this would have been a much better film.

I would highly suggest passing on this movie, you’ll feel better about yourself if you don’t see it.



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