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Smart People - quick review (1 Viewer)

Patrick Sun

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 30, 1999
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"Smart People" is actually tepidly exasperating for most of its running time. In the final analysis, "smart" people need love too. The script relies too much from using the adopted brother character of Chuck to end its scenes with a laugh. It's a device that many sitcom writers use to extricate themselves from scenes, they end them with a touch of the funny while the material preceding the transitional funny doesn't quite earn it. It might work the first couple of times in a film, but its repeated use was unwelcomed and tiresome.

The 2 main subplots revolve around a family of "smart"/educated folks. Lawrence (Dennis Quaid) is a Lit professor trying to sell a book to prospective publishers, Vanessa (Ellen Page) is his scholasticly over-achieving and sarcastic daughter, James (Ashton Holmes) is the son in college with literary aspirations of his own (though his father hasn't a clue), and Chuck (Thomas Haden Church) is the adopted brother of Lawrence, and finds himself in their lives because Lawrence suffers a seizure from a concussion and can't drive for 6 months, so Chuck offers his unreliable services as a driver. Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker) is the ER doctor who treated Chuck after he suffered his concussion, and she was a former student, and they become intertwined romantically, albeit in an initially haltingly boorish fashion because Lawrence is still in his own headspace, which is one of the main subplots. The other subplot revolves around Chuck and Vanessa sort of bonding as he attempts to encourage her to have some fun, and during one of their 'fun' times, Vanessa takes it a little too far, and the remainder of their arc deals with their relating to one another in a cautious manner.

Quaid, Page and Church are good in their performances, though hampered by a staid script. Parker doesn't bring much to the table (again, I blame the script). Sure, there are a lot of small laughs and chuckles, but overall, it never quite gells, and nor becomes all that involving for this viewer.

I give it 2.5 stars, or a grade of C+.
 

ChrisBEA

Screenwriter
Joined
Jul 19, 2003
Messages
1,657
I thought Page and Church were good in spurts, Quaid was consistent but not necessarily great. As for SJP? Not really right for the movie (not much of a fan), too bad Rachel Weisz pulled out.

The film feels terribly long and the score did not help matters. It felt like they were going for a Noah Baumbach feel, but instead being inspired by it was aping and not doing it well....

**/*****
 

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