If you're one of those people who just loved the characters in Juno and Stranger Than Fiction but really hated to be burdened by their poignant stories, this is the movie for you.
Widowed literature professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid, Vantage Point) suffers a seizure and has his drivers license taken away, so his penniless, adopted brother, Chuck (Thomas Haden Church, Sideways), moves in to be his chauffeur. Wetherhold finds more than he can handle in his relationship with his brother; his over-achieving, ultra-Republican, 17-year-old daughter (Ellen Page, Juno); and a former student (Sarah Jessica Parker, TV's Sex and the City) to whom he becomes romantically linked.
I enjoyed watching this movie. It's exceedingly colorful. But the whole thing is a character study and never really gets anywhere.
Church plays the bum uncle—the one that everyone seems to have in real life—to perfection. And Quaid, now fully entrenched in middle age, plays a brilliant, old self-obsessed grump. In fact, everyone in the film is great. The thing's just missing an angle.
Director Noam Murro and screenwriter Mark Poirer re-teamed for a film to be released later this year, and perhaps Hateship, Friendship, Courtship will have a bit more success, but count Smart People among a short list of very near misses.
Even so, I'll still recommend it, if only because it captures the American family dynamic so well. Just don't get mad at me when it ends and you're not feeling quite as uplifted as you thought you would.
These videos courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.