Smart People

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: -1/2

Content: -4

Dennis Quaid, Thomas Hayden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page. Comedy/drama. Written by Mark Poirier. Directed by Noam Murro.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A brilliant college professor is flummoxed when it comes to relationships, either with colleagues, acquaintances or even his own family. The story follows the family coping with their lack of passion for life. Then a neer-do-well relative moves in and the professor meets a caring former student. Both cause the family to reexamine their daily, humdrum routines.

PREVIEW REVIEW: For highly intelligent people, this is a morose group. But then, the Bible warns that the gaining of earthly wisdom often leads to unhappiness when that humanistic knowledge replaces Gods instructions. The film and the characters are depressing. Now, I suppose there are people who like to view unhappy screen characters for one perverse reason or another. Ill go so far as to say, people may think theyll come to terms with their own unhappiness by viewing unhappy like-minded movie characters. But Im not sure audience members will leave having gained much insight, for the happy ending here is murky at best.

Dennis Quaid plays a morose, paunchy college professor/widower with two morose grown kids. His daughter, played by Ellen Page, the recent Oscar nominee for Juno, is a morose young Republican with an acerbic tongue and a desperate need to be accepted and loved. In a bid for affection, she even makes a pass at her uncle. The uncle, played by Thomas Haden Church, who seems to get more smarmy with each subsequent role, is a somewhat morose, unreliable slacker who puts down young Republicans and thinks hes doing his 17-year-old niece a favor by getting her stoned one night, then drunk the next. And hes the moral balance in the film!

They are a self-absorbed group stewing in their own glumness. And to be honest, I cant remember the films ending moral. And I saw it just yesterday.

DVD alternatives:

Babettes Feast. This 1987 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film centers around two religiously devout Danish sisters who show kindness to a homeless woman. When she wins a lottery, the woman shares her good fortune in a most lavish manner. Based on a short story by Isak Dinessen, it is a beautiful tale of devotion and sacrifice, as well as a healing parable where quarreling friends and acquaintances are brought together once they shed their pious austerity. The film urges us not to hide behind our religion, but to put it into action.


The Gospel. A semi-autobiographical film about the transformative power of faith and forgiveness, The Gospel is a contemporary drama packed with the soaring, soulful sounds of gospel music. Set in the impassioned world of the African-American church, The Gospel tells the story of David Taylor (Boris Kodjoe), a dynamic young R&B star torn between his successful new life and the one he used to know.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several remarks of a sexual nature.

Obscene Language: Twelve or so obscenities (mostly the f- and s-words).

Profanity: Four profanities

Violence: A man falls and winds up in the hospital.

Sex: A sexual situation between two people on their second date; it leads to pregnancy.

Nudity: The uncle sleeps in the nude. People keep walking in on him, seeing his bare bottom; in a drunken state, a teen kisses her uncle; he cuts it off.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Theres a great deal of drinking; the daughter gets drunk; the girl and her uncle smoke pot in one scene; its done casually, as if the drug was not against the law, which it still is, though youd often not know it by how marijuana is used in movies.

Other: Though the family does love one another, they are a dysfunctional, ungrounded group

Running Time: 93 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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