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Thoughts on "Smart People" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, April 14, 2008

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee or rental. This is a solid, well-acted story that is a fine way to spend a few hours. It would make an even better rental as "Smart People" would lose next to nothing in the translation to the small screen.

Will I Own It On DVD: No. But I would watch it one more time when it comes on HBO/Cinemax/Showtime.

1) It's easy to compare "Smart People" to "Sideways" as both films feature socially-awkward academics who are trying to get books published, both have Thomas Hayden Church as a fun-loving hedonist, and both have romantic issues. And while "Smart People" isn't up to the caliber of "Sideways," the wry comedy is still a worthwhile endeavor.

2) The casting for the film helped immensely as the ensemble of Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page and Church was an interesting one. There wasn't a weak link in the bunch.

3) Quaid lets himself go for his role as he sports a frequently rumpled look complete with an academic pot belly and world-weary shuffle. To his credit, he doesn't reverse his misanthropic, slightly pompous attitude during the course of the film as the story is about small changes.

4) The subplot involving Page and Church was a bit of a stretch, although both actors perform well enough to pull it off. Church could play the arrested adolescent role in his sleep and still be entertaining. Page follows "Juno" with another teen role that she performs flawlessly as a lonely, overachieving student who gets excited by a tax write-off forms from Goodwill donations.

5) I realize that male nudity occurs far less frequently than female, however, it's starting to crop up more often and is starting to feel lazy. I suppose that one shot of Church's naked ass in red long johns is fine for an easy chuckle, but two is just overkill. It's a law of diminishing returns.

Overall, "Smart People" is a literate, if slightly frosty comedy about people struggling with life. It's rarely laugh out loud funny, however, the cast elevates the material to a solid level that is worth watching if the mood strikes you.



  1. Heff Says:
  2. Be sure and check out "88 Minutes" for me too, would you Pal ?

  3. JLee Says:
  4. Our movie critic reviewed this over the weekend and it seemed interesting from what he said as well. I did think of the "Sideways" similarity and pretty much always enjoy Thomas Hayden Church. Two gratuit-ass scenes does seem a bit much. haha

  5. Heff - I'm not sure as the only thing I read about that so far was fairly savage about the film. I'll keep an eye out.

    Jlee - It would be a quality rental, and possibly a matinee if you're bored. And yes, two gratuit-ass is too much for me too. Ha.

  6. As always, thanks for the reviews.. .this is on my short list and I told The Mister this weekend I'd like to read a few reviews, but the cast alone could get me to a matinee.

    Oh and 88 Minutes? I'd like to know what you think of that too. I'll need to find some valium before I go, but it might be worth it.

    Happy Monday - hope you're feeling better.

  7. Wendy Says:
  8. You know I'm way behind the times, but my favorite movie with Dennis Quaid was Dreamscape. It was great, except for the miscasting of Kate Capshaw as the love interest. Do you remember it?

  9. Miss Ash Says:
  10. Is this the same director or whatever of Sideways?? I may have actually seen a commercial for this one :)

  11. I'll have to check this one out - particularly because there's not much else right now.

  12. Anonymous Boxer - Thanks as I am only now feel semi-decent again. Ugly. Anyway, I agree about the cast as that's what got me to see it. It's a nice, little movie and if you don't expect much then I think it's worth it. We'll see about 88 Minutes as I need to read a bit more.

    Wendy - I do remember that film, but I haven't seen it in a decade or more. I tend to like Quaid more often than not as he seems gruff, but funny.

    Miss Ash - Nope. The directors are different (Alexander Payne for Sideways, not sure for this one), and if you saw a preview you're ahead of me this time. I only read about it. Ha.

    Native Minnow - You said it. That was a big factor in heading out to see it as well. I liked the cast and felt like seeing something. It's been brutal of there lately.

  13. nobich Says:
  14. ok so Smart People is a go...
    Also: from the other day Kathleen Turner was in The Graduate in 2002 on Broadway. 6 years to get scary looking..

  15. idobcool Says:
  16. I'll never understand the appeal of Sarah Jessica Parker, I just don't get it.

  17. Nobich - Thanks for the information. It's kind of scary that Turner looks that scary after only six years - at least it worries me a little bit.

    Idobcool - I don't find SJP particularly attractive if that's what you mean. As far as acting goes, I think she is solid in the right role, although I think most of the people who really like her do so because of "Sex in the City" and I've never seen more than a few episodes of that (and never without female company).

  18. BostonPobble Says:
  19. I'm willing to rent anything with Dennis Quaid in it. Knowing it's solid moves it higher on the list. Thanks!

  20. Linda Says:
  21. Good review! SJP was a surprise for me in this one, she did a good job (I'm a stranger to Sex in the City). I like your Sideways reference, Hayden-Church is an interesting actor. I like his work.

  22. Bostonpobble - I tend to like Quaid too. This would be an excellent rental for you sometime on a rainy Sunday or in winter (specific enough,eh?).

    Linda - Thanks as I was curious about your thoughts on this one as well. Just read the EW review, and liked it too. Anyway, I agree about Church, although that facial hair was getting somewhat strange in this one. Ha. SJP was very solid, but I thought they could have fleshed out her role a bit more.


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