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Smart People Movie Review

Updated on July 4, 2011

Smart People - two and a half stars

This is from the same maker of Sideways, which I moderately enjoyed. The problem I had with Sideways is that the film appears to hate its main characters. It is as if the film itself believes the characters are worthless and have no possibility of improving, even though the ending indicates that one character will improve. Smart People has less of that mentality. Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) is the only character the film hates.

Obviously, this is an improvement. However, Smart People had more shortcomings in the end. The film is not as complete as Sideways. There are parts of the Smart People story that are not sufficiently addressed. This is especially noticeable in the Chuck Wetherhold (Thomas Haden Church) and Vanessa Wetherhold (Ellen Page) relationship. Something strange happens, which could just be passed off as drunkenness, causing the uncle-niece relationship to become awkward. Though it is spoken about towards the end of the film, it is never resolved. Furthermore, Vanessa's fulfillment of the mother role is never corrected, or even talked about like the previous issue. Thus, the audience is left to wonder why she would want to go to Stanford, or if she is even going to go through with attending.

Finally, Vanessa's conservative mentality makes it unbelievable that she would smoke marijuana and drink alcohol at her uncle's suggestion. There needs to be some incentive. The most obvious would be that Vanessa's mentality and academic studies have resulted in no friendships, making the uncle the only possible candidate. Therefore, she would do anything to keep that friendship. However, there was no threat that she would lose the friendship if she did not smoke or drink; thus, there is no incentive for her to abandon or ignore her standards. Of course, another positive of the film is Ellen Page. She does an excellent job with her role.

However, I would like to see her in other roles aside from the smart or smart-ass or lethal teenager. Yet, I cannot be that disappointed. I like her too much to be that disappointed right now. Of course, I cannot actually like her because I do not know who she is. However, her acting abilities are an indication of her love for creating, and if she is anything like the Ellen Page during interviews, then she must not be all that bad.


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