Directed by Noam Murro (R)
Damaged individuals make for one dysfunctional but funny family.
Not much happens in Smart People, said Carina Chocano in the Los Angeles Times. A seriocomedy about an entire family’s coming-of-age, the film follows a self-absorbed English professor and socially clueless father, played by Dennis Quaid. It’s a smallish picture, but it’s the “kind of observational comedy” that’s hard to find at this time of year. Director Noam Murro and screenwriter Mark Poirier both make auspicious debuts, said Christy Lemire in the Associated Press. Murro secured a resourceful cast that includes Ellen Page as Quaid’s Young Republican daughter and Thomas Haden Church as his pot-smoking, good-for-nothing brother. Poirier has packed his script with “wickedly snappy dialogue.” But Smart People “isn’t as smart as it thinks it is.” You feel as if “you’ve seen this kind of indie dysfunctional-family comedy countless times before.” What makes Smart People different is the casual excellence of its cast, said Richard Schickel in Time. Church brilliantly plays a slacker without ever “seeming to be one as an actor.” Quaid’s performance exhibits “an underlying sense of decency,” adding to the reserved feeling of the film