Week 16: Smart People

Title: Smart People
MPAA#: 43519
Showtime: 9:10
Ticket price: 10.99
Seat: rear right
Shotgun: none
Attendance: 5
Weather: Warm, clear
Food: Coke and popcorn from concessions
Expectations: none
Met?: exceeded
Pre-show ads: Coke, Toyota, Telus

  • Made of Honor – OMYGOD IT’S PATRICK DEMPSEY FROM GRAY’S HE IS SO CUTE OMG!!!! But on the bright side, guys, it might be enjoyable to watch him get emasculated for a couple of hours by his girlfriend.
  • Deception – Hugh Jackman and Ewen McGregor in a movie that looks interesting visually but bad on paper.
  • Son of Rambow – cute looking, british-looking film about a pair of boys who decide to make a film in order to fill the void normally taken up by parenting.
  • Baby Mama – Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are both funny people. You would think they would both know that babies (and to a very slightly lesser extent, pregnancy) are comedy poison. Hey, I don’t make the rules.

I have always had a weakness for coming of age movies, in which a young man or woman experiences an event that brings them into the world of adults, whether they like it or not. Films like Gregory’s Girl, American Pie, and The Year My Voice Broke spring to mind.
As I have grown older, a market has developed for films about men in their 20s or 30s who grow up just enough to become capable of a lasting relationship. Obvious examples are the Nick Hornby films: Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, and About A Boy.

Smart People is the latest example of a kind of movie I have come to call the “coming-of-middle-age” story, where an older man or woman learns to cope with their complicated situations and regain their optimism after being disappointed by life. This film has two primary inspirations, the underrated Curtis Hanson film Wonder Boys and the even more underrated Kenneth Lonergan film, You Can Count On Me.

Ordinarily I try not to hold this kind of swiping against a film, but Smart People takes it a little too far, essentially creating a mashup that feels like a fourth generation copy. I blame the script; it was apparently the product of a screenwriting class, and still comes off as one, despite the best efforts of a talented cast including Dennis Quaid, Ellen Page, and Thomas Haden Church.

There are some moments that made me smile or laugh, generally involving Church and Page, who have good chemistry on screen (almost too good). Most of the time, though, I felt like I was watching an academic exercise- a very bad sign considering that the film is about a college professor who needs to learn how to open up to those he loves.

It’s a tough proposition, making a film about overachievers and geniuses; your script needs to be at least as good as something your characters would write.

Crowd reaction at end of movie: none
Weird credit(s): Buster Pile, Construction Coordinator
Credit cookie?: no
For further consideration: score by Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme: asking for trouble.
Opening next week: Baby Mama, Deal, Harold & Kumar, Deception, Rogue
Hoping for: Harold & Kumar.

About Scott M

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