Sunday, April 13, 2008

Smart People...

It's a rainy Saturday night here in Michigan. So, in the mess of weather that we call "Lake Effect", I decided that it would be fun to go out with my girl and check out Smart People, because what does one want to do other than hang out with a bunch of self loathing, quircky, rich people for an hour and a half. Now, I know that sounds like a ton of fun, but was it really worth it all?

Smart People is the story of a widower profesor, Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid), and his life. He has a teen daughter (played by the great Ellen Page), and they live in suburban Pittsburgh. He teaches at Carnage Melon, and is quite the arrogant, self obsessed teacher. His daughter is also very self obsorbed. She is a 4.0 student whose major goal in life is to get a perfect SAT score. However, this seemingly perfect little life is shaken up one day when Lawrence's adopted brother, Chuck (Thomas Hayden Church), comes and asks to stay. Now, Lawrence had an accident which forced him to be unable to drive, so, even though he doesn't want to, he says yes, and allows him to stay. So, he comes in and there lives change dramatically. Lawrence begins to fall for his doctor (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Chuck teaches his neice a little about living life.

Visually, this film is pretty basic fair. It's in the same style as say a Margot at The Wedding, with the drab pallet and pretty high contrast in the lights and darks. No bright colors, no flashy camera tricks (sometimes it seems like the editing goes a little overboard) but it works for the usually dark and rainy climate of the city. Most people will compare this to Juno (more on that comparison later), but to me it's main influences are Sideways and the afformentioned Margot. It's not as glib as Juno, which is definitley a good thing, and the character's still are quircky, but are more fleshed out. Their are quircky things, like the doctor bringing a cake with antidepresants on it to Christmas dinner, but those are few and far between. Also, the performances in this film are really top notch. Thomas Hayden Church gives what I am calling now the funniest performance all year. He is just real comic perfection and proves again that he is gold everytime. Ellen Page is also sold again. This is definitley an indie film and Ellen's character can be seen as a Juno-esque character, as she does say some very glib one liners, and it is very similar, like if Juno had been raised by a Republican, but that's really where the comparisons stop. This film is much better than Juno. I mean, where that film felt indie for indies sake, Smart People had fully fleshed out characters. Sure, people are not going to want to spend time with them at the begining, hell, I wanted to leave, but if you stay, you will laugh a ton and watch people change for the better and grow. However, there are a couple of problems.

In the begining, you probably will not like this flick. You have to warm up to it. The first act is really bad, as is the case with a bunch of indie films lately. It's just setting you up as to what these characters are like, and some stuff is just really heavy handed. Like how the main character can't ride in the passenger seat because he will become sick, or how he just parks anywhere and any way. This just felt really heavy handed and pretty pointless. Open the film in his class and show us that way how he is self obsorbed, and it would have worked better. Also, the romance this film rides on really has no chemistry. The scenes between SJP and Quaid are sometimes really unwatchable and just kind of pretentious in the same way the begining of Juno was. There is just something wrong in Quaid's performance. He plays an arrogant writer well, but sometimes it seems to just hit a wrong note, as does Parker's doctor. There just seems to be little chemistry between the two whose romance this film rides on. Sometimes it's really great, but others it's just rough. Nothing huge, just be warned, not everything will work. However, these few moments are saved by the exchanges between Page's conservative no it all, and Church's pot smoking mooch. This film is in my top 5 of this year, and probably is number 4 right now, so I totally and wholeheartedly recomend this film. If you can get past the first ten minutes of the film, you will really enjoy this film. Go out and check it out! Probably a 8/10

Go see something good!!

1 comment:

  1. Once again talls you did good!


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