Dave White
Smart People Review

Dave's Rating:

3.0

… awful people you have listen to for two hours.

Who's in It: Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, Ellen Page

The Basics: A middle-aged jerk falls for a dour, resentful younger woman. The middle-aged jerk's teenage kids are sarcastic, mean, glum, friendless and argumentative. The middle-aged jerk's brother is a leech with a horrible mustache. In other words: my favorite kind of film characters. Then they spend the movie trying to figure out how to stop being so awful, which I consider a failing on the part of the script.

What's the Deal? I want to be on the side of any movie that presents this many repellent people and demands that you root for them. That's the up side of indie cinema. The down side is when the filmmakers forget that awful people who aren't gut-bustingly funny in the process are just awful people you have to listen to for two hours.

How You Know They're All So Smart: Well, one kid is a poet, and his poem gets into The New Yorker, a magazine that smart people read. And then the other kid is a supergenius pill who wants a perfect score on the SAT and is a stickler for making her bed every morning. Then Parker's character is a doctor. And they're always smart. And Quaid is a professor with bad hair, a bad beard, a paunchy belly and a limp, which is kind of like spreading four layers of frosting on a really obvious piece of cake.

How Much Personal Growth and Learning Takes Place: Some. Not as gruesomely much as in other films that go down the same road (seriously, the trailer actually states the following: "Sometimes the smartest people … have the most to learn") but still too much. And funnier. It should have been funnier.

Who's Good: Church, who makes it look like falling off a log. And even Page, but she's kind of now in danger of being typecast as the smartass-y Juno over and over.

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