Smart People (2008)
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as Lawrence Wetherhold
as Janet Hartigan
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Critic Reviews for Smart People
Unfortunately, Smart People has nothing original to say about its characters' dilemmas, but is content to tread waters that previous films have navigated with more humor and insight.
So much good work must not go overlooked. I just loved this movie because it's witty, intellectual without being pretentious, and filled with characters who are logically stressed and anxious to connect to a world outside of themselves.
Smart People is an indie film that plays the (jangle, jangle) same chords (strum, strum) as a lot of other heartfelt comedies about too-wise children and codgers taking humanity lessons.
In his first film as director, Noam Murro creates moments of comic disconnection, relieved by minuscule surges of warmth. He's very precise; he has a nice touch.
Good acting, nice smart script.
Audience Reviews for Smart People
One of my favorite movies. This film is a refreshing take on the role of smart people in society, taking one broken family trying to rebuild itself after the loss of their mother/wife. Quiad plays an antisocial literature proffesor, whose daugther, played by Ellen Page, is following in his footsteps. Throw in a degenerate uncle and an attractive female counterpoint and this movie is a classic recipe for a decent movie. Funny, sad and eye opening I really do love this movie.
We don't really learn how intelligence has hurt the main character, but how emotional stupidity hurts everyone and the characters have to become smarter about it. There is only one character who is chronically afflicted. Dennis Quaid's performance makes the movie, even with one seduction scene that's written out of character. Ellen Page and Thomas Haden Church are meant to score points with their lines Juno-style, and sitcom-style, and they do. The subplot of her lonely infatuation with the adopted uncle goes bumpy as the uncle creates some distance, being a responsible adult, but starts withdrawing in the style of a child. (And more and more, the girl talks to him like she's a manipulative lech.) I don't know if the two characters' attitudes toward achievement and worldly acceptance are meant to average into some vision of real happiness and fulfillment. For some reason, we're supposed to love one loser unconditionally, no matter what he's doing to himself, and the other when she's not being imperious or meddlesome. The heart of this is a feel-good movie selling its affections, which are sincere, inside the packaging of a subgenre: the dry-toned observational suburban bourgeois drama, where characters wear tweed and have great bookshelves but are unable to find love and happiness ... The bright side of every such tragedy is that filmmakers are able to find a group of expensive actors for only 2 million dollars.
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