by Andrew Wickliffe, published on April 14, 2008|
Its hard to intelligently describe Smart People because the best way to describe it is quite simple. Its a bunch of movie trailers for quirky family dramatic comedies strung together. Not five minutes goes by without two montages to songs (Im shocked the soundtrack CD wasnt available in the lobby) and one instrumental. There are no scenes in the whole movie, just snippets. Half scenes, missing their beginning and ending.
I thought, at the beginning, director Murro was just doing aby now, very familiarindie introduction to his characters with the montages. He wasnt. He was just making the movie. Murro is a bad director, but in interesting ways at least. He doesnt do establishing shots, he doesnt understand headroom, nor does he account for interior dimensions. If it werent for one interesting shot (Dennis Quaid turning and pointing left while on the right side of a Panavision frame), Id call him all together atrocious.
As for the writer, I really cant tell. Its possible Mark Poirier wrote a decent movie and it got cut to shreds in post-production. Or maybe he did write this one, which Murro ruined. Same script, all instrumentalwell-scoredsometimes drowning out dialogue and fifteen or twenty minutes shorter, Smart People would have really been a quirky movie, instead of a packaged attempt at an indie crossover success.
And its pretty obvious the filmmakers arent very smart themselves. Its in their handling of the material and, after some amusing scenes, it gets mildly offensive. But thenand heres where Ill shock myself typing itSarah Jessica Parker shows up. She gives the best performance in the film. Had the movie been about herlike it was for ten or fifteen minutes of montages (so figure around forty-five montages)and the weird family she encounters, it would have been a screwy Addams Family knockoff. But it isnt. Her performance, however, is excellent.
Second best is Thomas Haden Church, because hes a supporting character and the fact the script doesnt give him a character doesnt matter so much. It really hurts Dennis Quaid, whoat timescan be seen to be acting, but to no real purpose. He and Parker have some chemistry though.
Ellen Page is one-note. Look, shes an acerbic bitch. Ha. Funny. Not at all impressive by her.
Unfortunately, the movie manages to get worse as it closes, since it dismisses three of its four plot threads. It doesnt forget them, it just makes them all better so the movie can end. Wait, no. Four of five, I forgot the last scene.