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Smart People
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Reviews & Ratings for
Smart People More at IMDbPro »

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66 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

It was a gamble, but good film!

7/10
Author: joestank15 from United States
11 April 2008

Smart People - Smart People had a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it's far better than that. Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennie Quaid) is a "holier than thou" widowed professor you unfortunately meet once in awhile. He's the sort who's deeply invested in his subject but can neither make it accessible nor allow the students any time to discuss it. He's a brilliant asshole essentially. He meets a physician in a hospital after a head injury and begins to reevaluate his life and his happiness. He has a dead-beat brother-in-law (Thomas Haden Church who steals every scene he's in), a daughter (Ellen Page) who is a young Ann Coulter in the making, and a son (Ashton Holmes) to whom he never talks.

This film is quite funny! Page and Church were definitely the stand-outs, but I appreciated Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker, two actors who I rarely ever have liked. It deals with a couple familiar rom-com problems (pregnancy, the "other woman" thing), but the film never feels overly sentimental or cliché. It's satisfying watching Quaid's character get some richly deserved socks to the stomach once in awhile, but you're with him anyway by the end. The humor is a little on the biting cold side, which goes well with my tastes, maybe not with some. Smart People overstays it's welcome a bit near the end, but a good movie overall.

B.

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60 out of 78 people found the following review useful:

Familiar, but well done dramedy featuring some stellar performances

8/10
Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
13 April 2008

An indie comedy about a quirky family of self-hating misfits. We've seen this before, am I right? Well, so what, I say. When it's done well, I don't care too much whether the concept has been done before. And Smart People is done quite well. Dennis Quaid stars as a college professor and widower who hasn't been out with a woman since his wife died an unspecified (but long) amount of time ago. He lives alone with his daughter (Ellen Page). He has a son who goes to the same college at which he teaches and an adopted brother (Thomas Haden Church) who likes to mooch off of him. After an accident, Church moves in with Quaid and Page. Quaid also meets a former student (Sarah Jessica Parker), now a doctor, who had a crush on him. They start to date. The plot isn't anything special, but the dialogue is witty and the relationships are well observed. And this is also a case of fine actors who make something merely serviceable into something special. Quaid has never been better. My feeling about his work as an actor is that he is very uneven. He can be excellent, such as in The Right Stuff, but usually he's adequate, and often, perhaps too often, he's awful. But this is definitely one of the excellent performances. Church has kind of a sitcommy role, but that's fitting for an actor who was really good in sitcoms. He's hilarious here, too. A lot of the time, I was thinking of the movie as somewhat akin to a sitcom, but a good sitcom. There have been such things, you know. Page, fresh off her star-making turn as Juno (though Smart People was filmed earlier), is an actress I've liked in a couple of movies I disliked (Juno and Hard Candy). Finally, a movie with her that I actually like! Feels good. And she's great in it. The character is similar to Juno, but not quite so despicably precious. I like how the writer and director invite the audience to dislike all four of the major characters, at least a bit. They are recognizable people, which is, unfortunately, a rarity in movies. I liked the movie, and recommend it.

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55 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

Good, but don't go in expecting a comedy

7/10
Author: Kristine (kristinedrama14@msn.com) from Chicago, Illinois
24 April 2008

When I saw "Smart People" the trailer, I have to say that the first thought that came into my mind is "Sideways: Part 2". It had the same formula and characters. But I really wasn't as into Sideways as everyone else was, so I wasn't so excited to see this movie. But today I just decided to go ahead and give it a chance, I'm more grown up since I've seen Sideways, so why not just see what the film had to offer? I have to say while the movie does not excite me, I also see it doesn't excite too many people here on IMDb, it's a decent enough movie and worth the watch. The solid performances make the film likable and the story is interesting to watch, while it's not something that everyone can relate too, it's a good movie.

Lawerance is a college professor who isn't the most popular guy on campus, he's pompous, arrogant, and puts himself higher above his students while ignoring their plea's for extra help on assignments. His son hates him, his daughter admires him and is quite the over achiever, and his adopted brother is a scam artist. But when Lawerance has an accident while jumping fence, he hits his head, and meets former student, Janet Hartigan. They start to date, his daughter, Vanessa, goes through her life realizing she's never really had fun, and his adopted brother, Chuck needs this family just as much as Lawerance needs it.

Smart People, the major problem is that this was advertised as a comedy, it has some funny moments, but they're not what you would call laugh out loud. I'd say this is more of a drama with comedic elements, kind of like "Dan in Real Life", so Smart People didn't have "Smart Advertisement", but the movie is worth the watch. I would recommend it, it's an interesting film, not thrilling, so I would recommend probably waiting for the rental. But the cast pulls the movie together and makes it into a good drama.

7/10

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96 out of 167 people found the following review useful:

More complex and interesting than JUNO but just as good

10/10
Author: mrjoelcairo from San Diego, CA
19 March 2008

I saw this at Sundance. It was even better than expected, and I had my hopes up going into it. The story is smart, funny and more complex than Juno. Don't get me wrong; I loved Juno. I guess I am saying that Smart People is on a parallel level of quality with it despite being more complex in terms of the characters and their relationships. If you loved Juno, think of Smart People as your next stepping stone upward. While Ellen Page is one of the stars here, it is important not to overlook the fact that two of the bona fide actors with solid track records -- Dennis Quaid and Thomas Haden Church -- are really the main attractions here. If you look at Quaid's film history, you will see a wide array of projects, ranging from Breaking Away and The Right Stuff to Far From Heaven and Traffic. He's not afraid to take risks as an actor, and his long career shows that he is able to withstand the ebbs and flows of an industry that is very fickle. He's the reason you should see this film.

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36 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

An Ordinary Film Thats Anthing But Ordinary

9/10
Author: (Pulpthatsfiction) from Minnesota
20 April 2008

Smart People and Juno are alike in only in one way. They are both really good movies. The entire cast give great performances and this film has plenty of laughs. Thomas Haden Church and Ellen Page give sensational performances and have yet to disappoint me. The screenplay by Mark Poirier is very well written and deserves some attention that he will most likely not get. The film is very directed by newcomer Noam Nurro and any film he does its in good hands. Yeah I know thats there's a lot of films that are about ordinary people but its a plot thats never get old and always have great performances and laughs every time especially Smart People. Despite this film getting not that much praise, its a great film to see if you like those ordinary films that anything but ordinary.

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32 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

A Quirky Story with a Quirky Sense of Hope

8/10
Author: Charles Delacroix from United States
19 April 2008

I saw this movie today, the day after it opened here. And I was simply delighted. This is a fine story told with non-stop heart-tugging humor and verve. The movie captured my attention immediately, and held it from beginning to end.

The scriptwriter, Mark Jude Poirier, adapted his novel for the screen with extraordinary acumen. The ensemble of characters are just delightfully appealing. Their story is told here with humor and poignancy. Dennis Quaid as Laurence Wetherhold, Sarah Jessica Parker as Janet Hartigan, Thomas Haden Church as Chuck, Ellen Page as Vanessa, Ashton Holmes as James … all turn in wonderful performances in a perfectly matched cast.

To me the pace is perfect, and the dialog is crisp, compelling, almost flawless, with lots of funny lines.

For me, one of the most uplifting features of this movie is the way the whole ensemble of characters develops together. The strangeness of the characters as individuals, along with the convincing balance as (extended) family, reminds me of the ensemble in Running with Scissors. The quirky dysfunctionality and functionality of this family in combination are like nothing so much as the family in Running with Scissors. In any event, these are characters who together gain a renewed sense of hope … a hope that imbues this wounded band of characters with a sense of togetherness and vision that is to me very, very moving.

Another feature of this movie that I myself found especially appealing is the presence of such exquisitely composed visual scenes. These are of such delightfully crafted texture that in some ways this movie reminds me of the carefully composed scenes in Girl with a Pearl Earring and Atonement. The cinematography and beauty of scene after scene are just wonderful.

All in all, this is a fun, funny, moving portrait of a delightful band of characters. I highly recommend this movie to anyone.

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42 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

Crassly opportunistic! It's clear now why they had not released this film before: it's mediocre and depressing.

4/10
Author: bopdog from Was UK Now US
29 April 2008

This movie was made before "Juno," but remained on the shelf. It is clear now why--- it's just not very good. Ellen Page's Oscar nomination, and her incredible performance in "Juno" got some studio to do some thinking. "Aha!" they probably thought,"Here's a way to cash in her new found fame, and unload this turkey." The studio peeps were, in fact very smart people. The movie, however, is rather dull and depressed.

It was interesting to hear Page's perky "smart alec" voice in a character she played before "Juno." It indicates that much of what she showed us in "Juno" was HER, and not mere dialogue or direction.

Alas, the characters in "Smart People," especially Dennis Quaid's, were scruffy dim-bulbs, and not very pleasant, not admirable, nor watchable.

Bottom line, this clunker had sat unreleased and in the warehouse for a reason. It's not pure rubbish, but it comes mighty close. Its release now is pure commercial opportunism. Avoid it if you can!

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21 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Less is more

7/10
Author: wjellick from United States
27 April 2008

Not for your average movie-goer, this one. Although the situation is teed up nicely for a typical feel-good ensemble gush-fest, it resists that temptation and takes you to a place where the characters are not, although they seem to need it, ready for rehab. It has an easy, rambling style that gradually rather than gratuitously opens their world to us without (for the most part) overly relying on hackneyed situations and gimmicks (although Quaid's insistence on keeping his wifes clothing was not one of them). In fact, the situations portrayed are so dark and lo- keyed that I wondered if this movie could have been made without the ready-made typecast qualities of Quaid, Haden-Church and Parker. ...Gritty Pittsburgh backdrop in a very real academic surrounding adds to the slice-of-life tone.

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31 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

unripe and reminiscent of the excellent 'The Accidental Tourist'

6/10
Author: cohnmartin from United States
28 April 2008

I've just seen this film and read a number of reviews about it. Many reviewers are referencing 'Little Miss Sunshine', 'The Family Stone', etc. But I left the theatre thinking of the wonderful, beautifully balanced and developed, fun film, 'The Accidental Tourist'--another film about an emotionally deadened, difficult man who is suffering from the loss of a loved one and is 'redeemed' through love. Talk about quirky families; the one in 'Tourist' puts most of the rest to shame. The difference perhaps in the quality of these films (Tourist very high, Smart People quite low, many others in the 'genre' somewhere inbetween) lies in that The Accidental Tourist was based on the highly crafted, moving novel of the same title by the gifted writer Anne Tyler. What stands out for me again and again as I work up my courage to attend recent releases is that the quality of screenplay writing in Hollywood and elsewhere is low, low, low. Rushed, pressured, unbaked--too many films being made too fast, with scripts that bore and confuse us with unconvincing plots and thin characters. This film, Smart People, could have been--with revision and review--a much better, more engaging, moving picture. The script simply wasn't ready for production; the story isn't there.

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14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

I liked it quite a bit...

8/10
Author: jhusk13 from United States
18 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I definitely enjoyed this movie, and i suspected I would when i saw that the producers of "sideways" did this movie also. Dennis Quaid played a different type of character in this movie than those you normally see him play. He did a great job in this role as a very anal and inapproachable widowed professor. His daughter, who seems to be following in daddy's footsteps (Ellen Page) did a fantastic job as well. Rounding out the dysfunctional family is the estranged adopted brother: Thomas Haden Church. I grew up on wings, which makes it no surprise that he's my favorite character in the movie. He represents the antithesis of this father/daughter combo, and completely shakes up their very private and inaccessible little world.

all in all, i gave this movie 8 stars, not 10. the reasoning behind that is that Thomas Haden Church's character seems to react in a completely different manner than one would expect, after half of the movie has passed. That's a difficult sentence to interpret, i realize. What i'm trying to say is that his character turns in a direction that doesn't seem to follow suit from what you've learned of him in the first half of the movie. Obviously there's an event that triggers this change, but it still doesn't sit well with me.

Also; I don't really see the need for the brother character, he didn't bring much of anything to the movie at all...

anyways, worth the expense to see the movie.

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