Smart People Reviews
Smart People is a facetiously caustic romantic comedy about a pompous, self-aggrandizing English professor, named Lawrence Wetherhold, played by the delightfully surly Dennis Quade. Considering the humorously begrudging manner nearly everyone offers when forced to interact with him, it is evident many find Lawrence an insufferably self-centered and condescending man. Vanessa (Ellen Page), his rigidly self-disciplined and academically-inclined daughter -- an apparent by product of her father -- might be the only person who idolizes and respects him, not only as a father, but as a serious writer (meanwhile, publishers have mistaken the ornate style of his writing and the turgid tone of his book for deliberate satire when, in reality, he's as pretentious as they come and his writing comes without a hint of irony). Lawrence's contentious son, James (Ashton Holmes) is fundamentally different from Lawrence and his sister. He's considerably more relaxed, emotionally intelligent, and socially successful. However, he feels undervalued and neglected by his father, so he maintains a safe emotional and physical distance from the family. Chuck (Haden Church), Lawrence's capricious and unreliable adopted brother is the complete antithesis of Lawrence and he aims to influence his brother, as well as his niece, to loosen up, expand their horizons, and lead more emotionally fulfilling lives. Dr. Janet Hartigan (Sarah Jessica Parker), the ER physician who tended to Lawrence after he experienced a seizure at the University's impound lot, might just present an opportunity for Lawrence to pursue something more meaningful and gratifying than the narcissistic way of life he has grown accustomed to.
The premise is scarcely pliant and harbors little in the way of freshness. Although Smart People does feature a narrative that satisfies a lukewarm entertainment value, it saunters down the beaten path of similar, more fruitfully insightful films. Moreover, a handful of scenes were a tad unseemly because their execution appeared forced or exaggerated, which was somewhat distracting throughout the film. For example, when Lawrence is in Janet's apartment after their second "face-to-face conversation" a.k.a date, he makes the first move towards physical intimacy and the couple experience their first kiss. I'm assuming Quade meant to reveal a stroke of passion from his character, only he is unsuccessful because, at the angle this scene is shot, it actually appears as though he just started sucking on and eating her face, likely catching Parker completely off guard as she just sat there helpless to do anything. His lips had completely concealed her mouth too, so whether or not she was even kissing him back or responding at all remains a mystery. It was very awkward indeed.
[C-] -- 53%
I reviewed this when I last watched it: we watched it again last night having forgotten, briefly, that we'd already seen it. It's still good. This time around, the Guardian did rate it. We laughed, often.
I do have one same sentiment: surprisingly good despite a cast including Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid...two people who can really indicate a bad movie. Maybe because Page and Church pick up the slack. Church, though mostly the same character in all his movies, is reliably good.
I like the smart people element to this. Like when Page, the kid genius of sorts, asks the other girls what it's like to be dumb and they ask her what it's like to sit alone at lunch. It sucks, she says.
Old: Eh, better than I thought considering some of the cast, but nothing to make other people see.