Dennis Quaid plays an unhappy and overweight Carnegie Mellon professor who has become the least pleasant person to spend time with since the death of his wife. His neglected son stays in the dorms at the same school, and his genius high school daughter (Ellen Page) is striving for that perfect SAT score. He gets a surprise visit from his deadbeat adopted brother (Thomas Haden Church) and meets a pretty doctor (Sarah Jessica Parker) after suffering from a seizure.
The cast is great, the acting is effortless and the film has an even balance of believable drama and smart comedy. So why wouldn’t you see it, right?
Well, the film also treads on already discovered water. It’s very similar to the recent and far superior The Squid and the Whale, and revisits themes from one of Page’s recent movies, Juno.
You usually see these types of smart, dry comedies coming out in the fall, vying for Academy Award nominations. I’m not sure Smart People is Academy Award caliber, but it’s close.
It’s an intriguing debut feature for first-time director Noam Murro and first-time screenwriter Mark Poirier. The film didn’t really show me anything new, except for the fact that maybe Quaid is at his best when he portrays a depressed widower and wears a prosthetic beer belly.
Smart People releases in theaters April 11.