Monday, September 23, 2019

Movie Monday: Smart People

Miracle of miracles, last month, I had a few evenings all to myself! My husband was traveling, my son was working or out with friends, and I had a little much-needed quiet solitude. I also happened to be sick with bronchitis at the time, which prevented me from my usual problem of working too late into the evenings when I am alone. Instead, I indulged in a couple of movies. My favorite from that week was Smart People, a movie with an excellent, all-star cast that was funny and well, smart.

Dennis Quaid plays Professor Lawrence Wetherhold, a cranky, unpleasant English professor at a local college. This guy is a real...uh...let's just say, jerk. His wife died years ago, and he has two kids, a son named James, played by Ashton Holmes, who's attending the same local college and a precocious but cool-seeming daughter named Vanessa, played brilliantly by the talented Ellen Page. Vanessa is in her senior year of high school and clearly very smart, but she seems to have all the social graces of her cantankerous father. When Lawrence suffers a concussion caused by an unexplained seizure, Vanessa is annoyed to have to take time from her tight schedule of academics and activities that look good on college applications to go to the hospital. Sarah Jessica Parker plays Janet, the ER doctor caring for Lawrence. Unable to drive temporarily, Lawrence is saved (though he would argue that) by the unexpected appearance of his adopted brother, Chuck, played amusingly by Thomas Haden Church, who is the complete opposite of Lawrence in many ways. With a rocky start, Lawrence and Janet begin to date. The appearance of both Janet and Chuck into the dysfunctional family's lives shakes things a good way. Hijinks, hilarity, and - in spite of their best efforts - growth ensue.

I really enjoyed this movie. The writing is clever, funny, and entertaining, and the cast is outstanding. Lawrence is truly obnoxious and unlikable at the start of the film, and Vanessa isn't much better, though it's clear that they are both isolated and lonely. Janet - though that relationship has its own problems - and Chuck inject some much-needed life and laughter into their dull, solitary lives. Along the way, there are plenty of laughs, even when things are sad. There are some unexpected twists here, too, but ultimately, things turn out far better than how they started - and I like that in a movie, too. It was a very witty and entertaining 90 minutes.

Smart People is currently on Netflix and is also available for $3.99 streaming on Amazon.

Check out the warmth and wit of this movie in its trailer:

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