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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    New flick makes a ‘smart’ debut

    Smart People, released April 11, features Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker and Juno star Ellen Page. It follows a middle-aged widower (Quaid) as he discovers new love and deals with his quirky family.
    ‘Smart People,’ released April 11, features Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker and ‘Juno’ star Ellen Page. It follows a middle-aged widower (Quaid) as he discovers new love and deals with his quirky family.

    “”Smart People,”” directed by Noam Murro, gives you a humorous and personal look into the everyday life of the professor you despise.

    Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) is a miserable, condescending jerk. He is the professor who, no matter how hard you try, will never be satisfied. Generally, as a student, your expectations end here and you simply work for the passing grade.

    In the film “”Smart People,”” however, you are given a glimpse at why this particular professor behaves the way he does. As it turns out, the arrogant Lawrence is a widower. Following the death of his wife, he has worked hard to both progress his career and raise his two children to be equally miserable replicas of himself.

    “”Smart People””
    Rated R – 123 mins.
    3 1/2 stars

    His socially inept daughter, Vanessa (Ellen Page), has seemingly achieved this goal. Vanessa spends her time studying to get a perfect score on the SAT while insulting the intelligence of others and hanging on her father’s every word. Essentially, she has replaced the gap in Lawrence’s life following the death of his wife.

    Lawrence’s other child, James (Ashton Holmes), is attending Carnegie Mellon and appears to have removed himself from the expectations of his father, yet is still subject to his regulations.

    The story turns after a dramatic event causes Lawrence’s low-life, adopted brother to move in and a past student to be brought into his life as a romantic interest.

    The acting in “”Smart People”” is spot on. Each actor seems to fully embody the essence of their character and exist with the others flawlessly. The interaction between the actors is seamless and creates realistic and compelling relations between them.

    Dennis Quaid plays Lawrence with all the venom and disinterest that can be mustered while still being believable. His portrayal is so true to life that it is impossible not to visualize someone you’ve had the displeasure of meeting.

    As awful as Lawrence is, his low-life brother Chuck (Thomas Church), is absolutely loveable. The stark contrast of his laid back personality and the compulsive ambition of Lawrence and Vanessa, creates hilarious moments of clashing viewpoints.

    While Ellen Page plays the biting and sarcastic role of Vanessa perfectly, it is very reminiscent of her character in “”Juno.”” There are variations in the two characters but the similarities in her tone and mannerisms can sometimes be distracting.

    Another familiar face in the film is Sarah Jessica Parker who plays her part well but does not exhibit anything that viewers of “”Sex and the City”” have not already seen.

    In collaboration with the acting, the script of “”Smart People”” works very well. The lines are witty and intelligent and allow cohesive character development throughout the film.

    One valid concern about this film is the pacing. The sometimes slow plot development may make it difficult for some to stay interested during some of the particularly sluggish moments. This pace, however, is completely justified.

    “”Smart People”” is not an action film. It’s a realistic examination of human behavior as it pertains to ideas of success and achievement. The pace of the film, though admittedly slow, is very natural and facilitates the unusually solid character development.

    “”Smart People”” is a very well made film. If you are looking for a fast paced, flashy movie, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a well thought out, realistic and compelling experience, “”Smart People”” won’t let you down.

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