I consider myself to be a smart person. Maybe not a genius, although I have yet to take the Mensa test, so who knows? As a smart person, I admit I am more prone to intellectual rather than emotional persuits, but I like to think I have a decent set of social skills. Then again, I'm not married, don't date very often, and I work most of the time, so maybe I am a little lacking in my social life. That's part of the premise behind Smart People from Miramax Films, but the film goes quite a bit further by poking fun at and exaggerating the social ineptitude of very intelligent people.
Smart People Synopsis
Ever since the death of his wife, Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (played by Dennis Quaid) has very little enthusiasm for life. He works most of the time and is self-absorbed to the point of not really knowing what is going on in the lives of his children. He has no regard for his students and fails to remember their names as pointed out on numerous occasions in the film. Then a chance accident changes his circumstances and turns his life into a bit of a circus. At the hospital, his doctor (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) turns out to be a former student, but of course, he doesn't remember her. After a colleague of the doctor tells Wetherhold about her, he becomes interested and Wetherhold and the doctor become involved in a dating relationship.
At the same time, because of his accident, Wetherhold has his driving privileges suspended so he has to rely on his freeloading brother (played by Thomas Haden Church). To add to this mess, Wetherhold has an overachieving daughter (played by Ellen Page) who has her own socially-based challenges. The daughter develops a crush on the brother (her own uncle) and the story continues to unfold, but unfortunately at a pretty slow pace compared to some of the other films on this very topic. If we didn't already have films like The Royal Tenenbaums, Smart People would probably stand out more.
Smart People Blu-ray
Since most of the film is up close and personal, it really didn't need the Blu-ray treatment. However, it did get the full treatment providing a crisp and clear picture in every scene. Even the sound is provided in fully uncompressed 5.1 surround as well as Dolby Digital 5.1. There are no explosions, car chases or special effects, so there's nothing really spectacular to show off the Blu-ray quality but it's still there and probably noticeable if you compare it to DVD. The nice thing about the additional quality is that none of the dialog gets lost. You can hear every word clearly, which is not always the case when you watch a film on DVD.
Smart People Extras
There aren't a whole lot of extras here, but there is of course, the obligatory audio commentary in which the filmmaker (Noam Murro) and writer (Jude Poirier) give there opinions on various aspects of the film and its characters. There are also some deleted scenes (nine in all), most of which are longer versions of scenes that were cut down in size for inclusion in the film. The short, two minute Not So Smart features a few bloopers and outtakes. And finally, the featurette The Smartest People provides sixteen minutes of commentary from the director, writer and the cast as they talk about the theme of the movie and how each character fits into the story.
Smart and Witty, but Slow
I wouldn't say Smart People is a bad film, it's actually pretty good if you don't mind the slow pace. There aren't a lot of surprises here since the viewing public has already been conditioned by many other films that follow a similar storyline and have been far more outrageous. So yes, Smart People presents a dysfunctional family dynamic, but perhaps not dysfunctional enough. To enjoy the story, I actually had to watch the film twice because the first time I was expecting more twists and turns. Smart People is one of those films where you'll either like it or you won't. It's really that simple.
For more information:
* Smart People (Blu-ray)
* Smart People (DVD)