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  Smart People

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

Directed by: Naom Murro

Produced by: Bridget Johnson, Michael Costigan, Bruna Papandrea, Michael London

Written by: Mark Poirier
Distributor: Miramax Films

     The rising popularity of the independent film has done a whole lot of good for the cause of providing thoughtful alternatives to mainstream cinema, but it has also taken its toll on the indie filmmaker’s sense of creativity. Instead of looking for new ways to invent, mold, and rework the conventions of the medium of film as we know it—this is the whole purpose of working without a studio, it seems to me—a growing percentage of independent writers and directors have begun to copy the practices of the studio-system by regurgitating the plots and characters of popular indies that have come before. Case in point is Smart People, a movie that desperately wants to be like Little Miss Sunshine and Sideways but doesn’t have half of the brains of either film. Yes, Smart People makes some attempts to mock the success of those pictures by creating a dysfunctional family-based story and employing a cast of actors who boast big names but are fond of tackling small projects—Dennis Quaid, Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ellen Page—but it fails on nearly every count. The characterizations found in Smart People are muddled and the dialogue isn’t particularly special. In fact, many of the film’s story threads seem to have been made intentionally vague simply because they could then later be deemed “edgy” or “up for interpretation” by amateur critics whose comments could in turn appear on promotional materials. In fact, the only real remnant of good to be found in the picture is Page’s performance, which does back-flips around the work of the rest of the cast-members, who appear to be sleepwalking through their roles for most of the duration. One thing’s for sure: Smart People is nowhere near as intelligent as its title would like to suggest.


-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 4.14.2007

Screened on: 4.13.2007 at the UltraStar Flower Hill 4 in Del Mar, CA.


Smart People is rated R and runs 95 minutes.

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