Thursday, October 2, 2008

Smart People

Smart People is a fine movie...except that you've seen it before in at least a dozen iterations. Cantankerous, widowed professor struggles to raise smart-mouthed teenagers and keep his career afloat. Career and parenthood spiral toward the inevitable toilet. Widower runs into a former student. Former student charms the grouchy away and the romance begins. All is merry.

Sound familiar? I was bored about twenty minutes in, and I was even more annoyed that the director resorted to cheap tricks to show us how "eccentric" Dennis Quaid's main character, Lawrence Wetherhold (seriously, Lawrence Wetherhold) was. Oh, look, he parks his car crooked in the parking lot. Now that IS eccentric. What? He will only ride in the back seat of a car? Now I KNOW he's eccentric!

Despite the tired story, the cast of the film had a great deal of promise, but the film let them down by plugging them into all-too familiar roles. Ellen Page plays the same smart aleck she always plays, Thomas Hayden Church plays the goofy, off-kilter and unreliable brother and Sarah Jessica Parker plays the challenging love interest.

A word about Ms. Parker. I realize now why they put her in so many goofy costumes in Sex and the City. It's because if she's just wearing plane-jane clothes, you find yourself spending a lot of time considering how huge and bony that head of hers is. Jesus on the cross, that is the biggest jaw this side of a thoroughbred. I know that's a cheap shot and I generally do consider her to be quite beautiful but the cameraman didn't do her any favors in this film.

There are some funny moments in the film and the interplay of Ellen Page and Thomas Hayden Church is definitely the high mark of the film, but in the end, this is just an uninspired take on a story we've seen a dozen times.

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