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Smart People November 28, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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A debut at the Sundance film festival and a likable cast drew me to this film, which takes a look at a family of extremely smart but socially inept individuals. Dennis Quaid (In Good Company, Vantage Point) plays a misanthtropic, self-immersed professor who is trying to develop a relationship with his doctor and former student, played by Sarah Jessica Parker (Failure To Launch). Meanwhile, his neglected, overachieving daughter (Ellen Page) forms a bond with his unemployed, adopted brother (Thomas Haden Church) who has come to stay with family for a while.

Written by debutant Mark Poirier, the dialogue in the film is one of its selling points. While the theme and characters are reasonably interesting, the film never manages to pull you in with its apparent charm. The “smart ones” in this film seem to be depicted as losers due to their lack of social skills mainly for amusement and without consequence. The Quaid-Parker relationship never really manages to get interesting. On the other hand, Page (Juno) and Church (Sideways) manage to have a lot more fun with a less predictable relationship.

The underlying premise of the film is that smart people are more rational and less emotional making them social misfits less likely to suceed in human relationships. Such themes have been tackled before but they have the scope to provide fodder for more attractive films. But this one amuses without impressing.

First time director Noam Murro manages to hold your attention in the initial part of the film but the script lets him down and that interest withers away slowly. If you like indie comedies in general, this isn’t hard to sit through (especially if you like the cast). The film has some amusing moments but the characters aren’t memorable and it isn’t one that you will remember after a while.