Tuesday, May 20, 2008

SMART PEOPLE - indie by numbers

You spend $50 on dinner, that's grounds for intercourseSMART PEOPLE is another one of those indie dramas about a dysfunctional family bickering with each other. Dennis Quaid plays a worn out, self-absorbed academic, grieving for his wife. He lavishes praises on his lonely, sharp-tongued daughter (Ellen Page) but ignores his teenage son (Ashton Holmes.) Two people enter the professor's life, resulting into a sort of adult coming-of-age movie. The first is his emotionally intelligent but practically hopeless adopted brother (Thomas Haden Church.) The second is his former student turned doctor turned girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker.)

SMART PEOPLE contains some decent performances, some emotional truths, and some truly brilliantly one-liners, ususally delivered by the slacker adopted brother. But it is strangely lacking in heft. The dialogue is never scabrous enough; the emotional exchanges never highly charged enough. The plot often feels contrived and for heaven's sake, will someone tell Sarah Jessica Parker that emergency doctors don't wander round with loose perfectly waved hair, pencil skirts and high heels. And while they're at it, they should probably warn Ellen Page against getting typecast as the young girl who flirts with older men.
SMART PEOPLE SMART PEOPLE played Sundance 2008 and opened in the US and Australia earlier this year. It is currently on release in the UK and Russia. It opens in New Zealand on July 31st and in France on September 10th.

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