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Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Smart People (2)

Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) is a bitter dried-up academic, still grieving for his long-dead wife. He hates his gum-chewing students, and finds his colleagues insufferable. His one sympathiser is brainy teenage daughter Vanessa (Ellen Page). She’s a friendless Young Republican who thinks stupid people have no right to exist. The problem of course, is that these Smart People are completely clueless when it comes to love and life.

Enter Uncle Chuck (Thomas Haden Church). He’s Lawrence’s adopted brother, a shambling middle-aged stoner who needs a place to stay. He’s determined to corrupt his young niece. Adding to the disruption is young doctor Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker), an ex-student who still harbours a crush on the grouchy slouchy prof.

Directed by Noam Munro and nicely written by novelist Mark Poinier, Smart People is full of good dialogue and great performances – especially from the charismatic Haden Church. Unfortunately, the film is so good at setting up Quaid as an irretrievably damaged man, that it’s not believable when he finally submits to love. And the idea that an intelligent young woman would want to have his babies is frankly unconvincing.

Rochelle Siemienowicz (This review appeared in The Big Issue, #303)