Smart People 2008, **1/2, R

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“Smart People,” starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Page stand out as a father and daughter who may have high IQ’s, but rate below zero in terms of their human relations skills.

Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Quaid, “The Alamo,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) might be imperiously brilliant, monumentally self-possessed and an intellectual giant — but when it comes to solving the conundrums of love and family, he’s as downright flummoxed as the next guy. His teenaged daughter (Page, “Hard Candy,” “Whip It,” “Juno”) is an acid-tongued overachiever who follows too closely in dad’s misery-loving footsteps, and his adopted, good-for-nothing brother (Thomas Haden Church, “Sideways”) has perfected the art of sponging off others.

A widower who can’t seem to find passion in anything anymore, not even the Victorian Literature in which he’s an expert, it seems Lawrence is sleepwalking through a very stunted middle age. When his brother shows up unexpectedly for an extended stay at just about the same time as he accidentally encounters his former student Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker, HBO’s “Sex and the City,” “The Family Stone”).

This film is kind of slow, however is one that you can enjoy if you are in the mood for a slice of life type comedy-drama.  I must note, superb acting by Ellen Page, new rising star, of “Juno.” The charm of Smart People is watching these characters squirm and eventually come out of their shells.  Check it out on DVD.

 

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