I rented the newly-released Smart People (website) last night and I thought it was pretty good. Not overly exciting but worth the time and money, generally. It was clever and witty, but not hilarious.
The film is about a widow/father/college professor (played by Dennis Quaid) who is pompous, too intelligent for his own good and generally unhappy. He doesn’t give a crap about his students, he’s trying to get the position of Department Head and his book has been rejected by several publishers. I’ve seen several Dennis Quaid movies and I find that he rarely differs in his approach (‘cept in Great Balls of Fire!– he was insane in that movie). He’s usually charming and lovable. In Smart People, I pretty much hated his character the entire way through. For someone so smart, he really was so blind to what was going on around him. And I think that’s the point. Kudos to you, Quaid. Kudos.
I’m usually not a fan of Sarah Jessica Parker. She just annoys me. (Before you ask, no, I’ve never seen Sex and the City. Maybe someday. But not today.) She did a good enough job playing Quaid’s young love interest. The part was not nearly as challenging as Quaid’s and I unfortunately didn’t see any chemistry between the two of them. (I actually liked her much better in The Family Stone. She was annoying and uncomfortable and I loved it.)
Ellen Page (love her!) plays Quaid’s prudish, Republican, super-brain daughter. Since the death of her mother, she has been the perfect little replacement wife for her father, cooking meals and doing everything in her power to impress her perfectionist father. Page makes such an easy transition between playing the uber-Liberal, bass-playing, pregged-up teenage rebel in Juno to the exact opposite so easily. I’m beginning to think that this girl can do anything. I found her character kind of annoying too, and not just because she’s a Republican. That’s probably why her character doesn’t have any friends. (On a side note, I don’t think Ellen could ever play a dumb girl. Now that would be a challenge.)
Lastly, Thomas Haden Church plays Quaid’s adopted brother who comes to live with the family after several failed business attempts. His acting was good and his character was interesting… but I don’t know. I found his character… a little unnecessary. Yes, he helped Page’s character see how unhappy she was but it was Sarah Jessica Parker’s character that changed the professor. I’m still glad he was in this film, but it would have been nice if he had had more to do in this film than show a bare bum a couple times.
So, to rent or not to rent? I say rent. It’s chilled-out with lots of literary terms and it’s one of the only films out right now that might expand your vocabulary. Seen this movie? What did you think?