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Smart People DVD Review

Smart People DVD Review - Reviewed by Kidzworld on Apr 10, 2008
( Rating: 3 Star Rating)

Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ellen Page star in this film about a widowed college professor who can't find passion in anything anymore. Kidzworld takes a closer look.

Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ellen Page star in this film about a widowed college professor who can't find passion in anything anymore. Kidzworld takes a closer look.

Family Matters

Smart People debuted in 2007 at the Sundance Film Festival and is just now being released on the big screen. It tells the story of Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid), a widowed English professor at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. He glides through days at school without bothering to care about his students, or even learn their names, and his home life isn't much better. Son James lives in the Carnegie Mellon dorms and keeps his dad at a distance, while his teen daughter Vanessa (Ellen Page) is so focused on acing the SAT and being a young Republican that she's completely missing her childhood.

After the Fall

Something has to get this family moving, and the ball starts to roll when Lawrence's car gets towed and he falls off a fence trying to sneak into the impound lot. When he wakes up in the hospital, he sees Dr. Janet Hartigan, a former student who used to have a secret crush on her professor. His adopted brother Chuck appears too, looking for a handout to keep him on his feet, and when the doctor says Lawrence can't drive because of a seizure induced by his fall, Chuck moves right in and names himself his brother's new chauffeur.

The Ice Melts

Chuck's presence in the house slowly stirs the family into action. He tries to get the robotic Vanessa to lighten up and be a kid, and helps Lawrence move on from the loss of his wife. Lawrence begins to date Dr. Janet, and even though the first date goes horribly, and Vanessa tries to sabotage the relationship, the rumpled professor seems to be slowly coming around. The real question is can this academic family finally stop thinking so much and follow their hearts?

DVD Features

The Smart People DVD features some pretty entertaining outtakes and a few deleted scenes. You’ll also find audio commentary on the filming of the movie and some interviews with the cast including star Ellen Page.

The Bottom Line

We really wanted to love this movie. As a huge Ellen Page fans, we liked her portrayal of Vanessa, the snarky, SAT obsessed teen, but it pales in comparison to her role as Juno McGuff. It's safe to say that Ellen should lay off the sarcastic teen roles for a while. The rest of the cast was solid, especially Thomas Haden Church as the troublemaking brother, but the story didn't take enough time to really get invested in the family. One thing that totally ruined the movie was that Dennis Quaid was obviously wearing a suit to give him a beer gut, and his overly plodding way of walking around seemed forced. Basically, the movie tried a little too hard to be a movie-going feast and ended up a little overcooked.


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