by Philip French, The Observer, Sunday, May 18, 2008|
Recently, there have been several sharp and accurate pictures involving writers. I think especially of Curtis Hanson's Wonder Boys and Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale. To these can be added Noam Monro's Smart People. Dennis Quaid is excellent as a teacher of Eng Lit, mostly Victorian, at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh (in Wonder Boys, Michael Douglas's blocked novelist teaches creative writing in Pittsburgh) and his offhand, elitist conceit makes him loathed by his colleagues and pupils alike.
His teenage children both study literature and it's the acerbic daughter (a very amusing performance from Ellen Page) who provides him with a title for a scathing study of modern criticism - You Can't Read - which Penguin is shaping into a controversial bestseller. Thomas Haden Church does a characteristically likable job as Quaid's louche stepbrother.