Smart People


Smart People

Critics Consensus

Despite its sharp cast and a few laughs, Smart People is too thinly plotted to fully resonate.



Total Count: 148


Audience Score

User Ratings: 102,371
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Movie Info

Commercial director Noam Murro makes the leap to feature films with this comedy drama concerning an aging professor-turned-bitter eccentric due to the death of his longtime wife. Ever since his wife passed away, Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) has become overly acerbic and self-absorbed. He's alienated his son (Ashton Holmes) and transformed his daughter (Ellen Page) into a friendless overachiever. Now, at the precise moment Lawrence thought he had finally figured it all out, his life comes crashing down all around him as he falls for a former student (Sarah Jessica Parker) and his shiftless adopted brother (Thomas Haden Church) comes knocking on the door in search of a place to stay. Though Lawrence always relied on his intelligence to get him out of life's little jams in the past, it's going to take quite a bit more than intellectual thinking to move past this sticky stage in his suddenly chaotic life. David Denman and Christine Lahti co-star in this romantic comedy drama, which serves as the screenwriting debut of Goats and Modern Ranch Living author Mark Jude Poirier. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Smart People

All Critics (148) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (73) | Rotten (75)

  • 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.

    Apr 6, 2015 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
  • Smarter than your average romantic comedy it may be, but this family-dysfunction indie is playing it a bit safe.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Apr 16, 2008

    Rex Reed

    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Apr 16, 2008 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Apr 14, 2008 | Full Review…

    David Denby

    New Yorker
    Top Critic
  • Good acting, nice smart script.

    Apr 14, 2008

Audience Reviews for Smart People

  • Jun 09, 2016
    Smart people are not smart at all.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Nov 20, 2013
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 14, 2011
    Smart People could have been a "smart" film but it instead squanders its talent and the screenplay leaves much to be desired. What could have been either a good drama or comedy film, Smart People is simply a slow moving and desperate story of miserable people. These characters know their issues but also are under the impression that they can't change and these situations make up a bulk of the story. It's not until the closing frames we see any real attempt at some revelation on the part of our main protagonist. What this means is that we are left with a character who simply is arrogant and conceited and the price he must pay in his relationships isn't overly meditative or amusing in any way. Instead of a smart and entertaining film dealing with the deeply emotional impacts of behavior on relationships and changing for the betterment of said relationships and instead the viewer is left with a contrived mess.
    Chris B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 10, 2010
    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.
    Adam M Super Reviewer

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