SMART PEOPLE

Not So Smart

Content -3
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: April 11, 2008

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica
Parker, Thomas Haden Church,
and Ellen Page

Genre: Comedy

Audience: Older teenagers and adults

Rating: R

Runtime: 95 minutes

Distributor: Miramax Films/The Walt Disney
Company

Director: Noam Murro

Executive Producer: Omar Amanat, Steffen
Aumueller, Bill Block, Marina
Grasic, Keneth Orkin, Jennifer
Roth, and Edward Rugoff

Producer: Michael Costigan, Bridget
Johnson, Michael London, and
Bruna Papandrea

Writer: Mark Jude Poirier

Address Comments To:

Daniel Battsek, President
Miramax Films (A Division of The Walt Disney Company)
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (323) 822-4100 and (917) 606-5500
Fax: (323) 822-4216
Website: www.miramax.com

Content:

(HH, B, Ab, Pa, PC, LL, V, SS, N, AA, DD, M) Strong humanist worldview with some light moral elements, including a pro-life message, plus some immoral pagan content and a politically correct element where a teenage girl’s affiliation with Young Republicans is played for laughs; 23 obscenities and one profanity; light violence when a character accidentally falls from a high fence; pre-marital sex by numerous characters, in one case resulting in pregnancy, plus characters shown in bed together; upper and rear male nudity; heavy drinking and drunkenness; smoking cigarettes and marijuana; and, teenage girl tries to kiss step-uncle and authority figure takes teenage girl to bar and gives her illegal drugs.

Summary:

SMART PEOPLE is the story of a dysfunctional family of intellectuals still trying to recover from the death of the mother many years ago. Undermining the story’s few positive messages are a humanist worldview with immoral content, including foul language, extra-marital sex and a politically correct element.

Review:

SMART PEOPLE is the story of a dysfunctional family trying to recover from the death of their mom many years ago.

Dennis Quaid plays widowed professor Lawrence Wetherhold, a brilliant, yet self-absorbed dad who has two equally brilliant kids, James (Ashton Holmes) and Vanessa (Ellen Page). Lawrence’s adopted brother, Chuck (Thomas Haden Church), comes to live with them just as Lawrence begins his first romantic relationship since his wife’s death with a former student named Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker). The family grows over the course of the story, each learning to be more kind and gracious with one another and to care for others, not just themselves.

Dennis Quaid gives a complex and funny performance as the curmudgeon professor. He is the highlight of the movie. The directing is good, as are the other production elements. Rising above “good” is the musical score, which sets a very unique tone for the movie.

The story’s few positive messages, however, are undermined by the movie’s humanist worldview, as summed up by Janet’s comment regarding the family’s problems, “We’ll figure it out. We’re smart people.” That’s the crux of the movie. The family relies on their own ability and intellect to solve their problematic relationship issues. They learn a little about caring for others, but still in a very self-centered way. The ending is not satisfying because the characters have been so obnoxious that most viewers will have trouble sympathizing with them.

There are many other problematic elements, including foul language and the idea that sex outside of marriage is considered the norm. Also, the step-uncle introduces the teenage daughter to alcohol and marijuana, and she thinks that this attention is romantic in nature. The daughter is a driven person, intent on the perfect SAT score. Her affiliation with Young Republicans is played for laughs and is considered a negative. The step-uncle, Chuck, is a “loafer” that can’t keep a job and is himself dysfunctional in many ways. Yet, he’s also sympathetic in that he wants to help Vanessa come out of her shell and not be so uptight. One positive element is that, when Janet discovers that she’s pregnant, she does elect to keep the baby with Lawrence’s support.

SMART PEOPLE is a movie with many smiles, though no big laughs. The story of a family trying to find its way after their loss is engaging. However, the characters remain so self-centered that, even in their best moments, they still are not likeable.

In Brief:

SMART PEOPLE is the story of a dysfunctional family that is trying to recover from the death of their mom years before. Dennis Quaid plays widowed professor Lawrence Wetherhold, a brilliant, self-absorbed dad who has two equally brilliant kids, James and Vanessa. Lawrence’s adopted brother, Chuck (played by Thomas Haden Church), comes to live with them just as Lawrence begins his first romantic relationship since his wife’s death with a former student named Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker). The family grows throughout the story, each learning to be more kind and gracious with one another and to care for others, not only themselves.

The story’s few positive messages are undermined by the movie’s humanist worldview, as summed up Janet’s comment regarding the family’s problems, “We’ll figure it out. We’re smart people.” That’s the crux of the movie. The family relies on their own ability and intellect to solve their problems rather than God or faith. There are many other negative elements, including foul language and scenes of sex. Also, the teenage daughter’s step uncle introduces her to alcohol and marijuana, and then she thinks that this attention is romantic in nature.