Into the life of a widowed professor comes a new love and an unexpected visit from his adopted brother.


Noam Murro


Mark Poirier (as Mark Jude Poirier)
3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Dennis Quaid ... Lawrence Wetherhold
Sarah Jessica Parker ... Janet Hartigan
Thomas Haden Church ... Chuck Wetherhold
Elliot Page ... Vanessa Wetherhold (as Ellen Page)
Ashton Holmes ... James Wetherhold
Christine Lahti ... Nancy
Camille Mana ... Missy
David Denman ... William
Don Wadsworth Don Wadsworth ... Hadley
Robert Haley ... Roth
Patrick Sebes ... Curtis
Kevin James Doyle Kevin James Doyle ... Rodney
Paul Huber Paul Huber ... Ben (as Paul J. Huber)
Iva Jean Saraceni ... Volunteer
Richard John Walters ... Parking Lot Attendant


Lawrence Wetherhold is miserable and misanthropic: he's a widower, a pompous professor at Carnegie Mellon, an indifferent father to a college student and a high-school senior, and the reluctant brother of a ne'er-do-well who's come to town. A seizure and a fall send Lawrence to the emergency room where the physician, a former student of his, ends up going on a date with him. His daughter, Vanessa, lonely and friendless, who's been bonding with his brother, tries to sabotage dad and the doctor's relationship, but Lawrence is good at that without help. Is there any way these smart people can get a life? Can happiness be pursued beneath layers of irony? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes the smartest people have the most to learn


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, brief teen drug and alcohol use, and for some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Rachel Weisz was originally cast opposite Dennis Quaid in this film, but she decided to leave the project. She was then replaced with Sarah Jessica Parker. See more »


The license plate on the back of Lawrence's car is in fact not an accurate Pennsylvania license plate. The lettering used is not the correct style, nor the correct color. See more »


Chuck Wetherhold: These children haven't been properly parented in many years. They're practically feral. That's why I was brought in.
See more »


Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #18.86 (2010) See more »


Written by Suze DeMarchi
Performed by The Baby Animals
Courtesy of Candirose Pty Ltd.
See more »

User Reviews

Time to Learn and Move On
3 April 2009 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

The anti-social and bitter widower Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) is an egocentric and pompous man that is unpopular among his students and colleagues, and model for his teenager daughter Vanessa (Ellen Page), who is lonely and outcast in her school. His son James (Ashton Holmes) studies in the same college where he teaches and has little communication with his father. Lawrence is unsuccessfully trying to publish a provocative book and is disputing the position of Head of English Department, while Vanessa has applied to Stanford. When Lawrence has a serious concussion followed by seizure jumping a fence in a silly accident, Dr. Janet Hartigan (Sarah Jessica Parker) does not allow him to drive for six months. Lawrence does not recognize Janet, who was his student and had a crush on him. Lawrence hires his unemployed stepbrother Chuck (Thomas Haden Church) as his driver and he moves to Lawrence's house. Further, Lawrence dates Janet but he has not dated any woman since the death of his wife, and his dinner completely fails. However, Janet and Chuck change the behavior of Lawrence and he discovers that even smart people need to learn and move on.

The dramatic "Smart People" is a nice romance with realistic characters and sitcoms. The viewer that watches this movie expecting a silly comedy or a conventional romantic comedy misguided by the trailer may be disappointed with the witty lines related to relationship, instead of empty jokes. Dennis Quaid, Ellen Page, Thomas Haden Church and Sarah Jessica Parker are perfectly cast for their roles and their performances of human characters are fantastic. Wait for the credits to see pictures with the conclusion of the story. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Vivendo e Aprendendo" ("Living and Learning")

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

11 April 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Smart People See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,092,465, 13 April 2008

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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