"Smart People" (R, 2008, Miramax)
By Billy O'Keefe
"Smart People" is, put succinctly, a coming-of-age film about a handful of people who, one exception (Ellen Page as Vanessa Wetherhold) aside, probably should have come of age quite a while ago. The plot isn't so much a plot as it is a chunk of days in lives (Dennis Quaid as college professor Lawrence Wetherhold, Thomas Haden Church as his brother, Sarah Jessica Parker as one of his many, mostly unsatisfied former students) already in progress. Translation: It isn't a story for everyone, and perhaps not worthy to some as being called a story at all. Similar words could be said about "People's" sense of humor, which takes the word "dry" to new frontiers. That, of course, is only when the film actually has a sense of humor, which isn't always and becomes increasingly occasional as the characters push ahead. So here's the bad news: If you came here looking for another "Sideways" from the people who brought you "Sideways," you might be disappointed by what you get instead. The good news is that when "People" wants to be funny, it often genuinely is, and when it tries to be sincere, it succeeds similarly and never at cost to a script that is, unlike the characters acting it out, very smart indeed. Ashton Holmes, Christine Lahti and Camille Mana also star.
Extras: Writer/director commentary, deleted scenes, interviews, bloopers.