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Smart People


Stars: Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page, Thomas Haden Church, Chrsitine Lahti, Kevin James Doyle, Ashton Holmes

Director: Noam Murro

The trouble with smart people is that they all too often make dull company. Like this film, the 'smart' characters here probably just want to be loved, but their story, though it has some telling moments - thanks mainly to its most interesting character, played by Haden Church - is quite boring in places too.

Ir's about a dysfunctional family still in mourning for the loss of its mother eight years before, and putting up defence mechanisms to shield it from reality (and human contact).

Chief grump is Dad (Quaid), a college professor, closely followed by his 17-year-old daughter (Page, repeating her performance from Juno), who is advised to try a Hitler Youth Rally, and has taken over the mother's role in a now-sterile household. She's a nasty piece of work.

There's also a son (Holmes), who remains a peripheral figure, especially after the house is invaded by the professor's brother (Haden Church), who appears to be a distant relative of the Randy Quaid character from the National Lampoon films.

Quite why the professor then emerges from his self-imposed shell to latch on to the doctor (Parker) who treats him after a fall isn't clear, especially when she has all the personality of a wet weekend in Cleethorpes. But their relationship, which amazingly results in a tumble into bed on the second date, provides the fulcrum of the film.

Quaid never quite convinces as an Eng Lit academic, which perhaps isn't surprising, as the blackboard behind him shows that he can't spell Spenser's famous poem The Faerie Queene.

David Quinlan

Canada/USA 2007. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour by deluxe.
95 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 11 May 2008