Smart People

Release Year: 2008
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, Ellen Page, Ashton Holmes
Directed by: Noam Murro
Written by: Mark Jude Poirier
IMDB: 6.7 (3,247 votes)
RT: 49% (121 reviews)
Metacritic: 57 (33 reviews)

A family drama about a widower professor, his overachiever daughter, his smart but overlooked son, his former student who got a crush on him, and his adopted brother who obviously not stupid but somehow living an uncertain life. Sounds familiar setup, right? Yes, a dysfunctional family template. So, actually there wasn’t anything new here.

What made it noticeable though, was that Ellen Page was in the movie. I think she was beginning to be somewhat stereotyped as a rebellious (at times), smart talking, but smart girl. Just like her role as Juno in Juno. Her role here in Smart People was somehow more realistic, though, because I felt that Juno’s character, if any, must have been a very, very, rare stuff indeed. It’s not something that you would come across frequently in real life. Vanessa’s character, however, is not a rarity, thus made it more realistic to me. Anyhow, Ellen played great in this movie and became the key strength of this movie.

Second best performance could have been delivered by Dennis Quaid who played as Professor Lawrence Wetherhold. Dennis managed to portray a person who got sunk too deep with his profession that it made him somehow hard to deal with other people. The rest of the cast also played well, especially Thomas Haden Church who played Chuck Wetherhold, a somehow smart person but directionless in life. Sarah Jessica Parker was somehow average, while Ashton Holmes didn’t get enough screen time to portray James Wetherhold. James and Lawrence’s relationship was too briefly explored despite there was a potential there.

Overall, the movie has an average storyline, but with a great cast. Watching it was entertaining, but I doubt that it would leave an everlasting impression. Still, without great performances from Ellen Page and Dennis Quaid, I think it would have been a disaster. As for the rating, I’d give it a 6.5.