reviewed by Andrew James
Page plays seventeen year-old Vanessa. She "too" bright that makes her one of the most unlikeable and smug girls you're ever likely to meet. Probably contributing to her ill-nature is the genes from her father; himself quite a grumpy intellect (Quaid). When Vanessa's father has a minor seizure, he's ordered by his doctor (Sarah Jessica Parker) and the state to cease driving for six months. Enter Chuck, the adopted, dead-beat brother to help take care of some of the driving responsibilities. So now what we've got is an extremely dysfunctional family unit just ripe for comic one-liners and a happy, moral lesson we can all learn something from. Gag.
It's not the film is horrible. It's not. It's just not good. It's one of the most "play-it-safe" films I've ever seen, which never bothers to take any kind of chances and hence, falls completely flat and ends up having no point whatsoever.
As I said, not a horrible movie. Thomas Haden Church's humor definitely helps things along and Ellen Page shines pretty brightly too. But again, the problem is just that there was no where to go. The jokes were funny, but they didn't mean anything. In some cases they were so arbitrarily thrown in for no reason that I found myself scratching my head more than I found smiling. But to be fair, there are some good one-liners and quirky expressions that set the crowd off a couple of times.
The story itself is fairly predictable and though it thinks about leaping off the tracks from time to time, decides to play it safe just as it looks like something interesting might be about to happen. If you've seen any number of romantic comedies or family friendly dramas, you can guess how this one will end up.
So never was I surprised, angry, upset, unsettled, interested, enlightened, joyous or even depressed. The film is only 95 minutes but just seemed to drag on and on making it feel over two hours in length. As much as I've bashed it here, I wouldn't necessarily tell you to avoid Smart People, just be aware that it's pretty much 90 minutes of junk food for the brain. Nothing compelling or fascinating, just a bunch of well-seasoned actors doing their thing and creating a few laughs here and there. Overall, a pretty ho-hum experience in the theater.
Flixster Profile for Smart People