Well - Spoken Script Full of Stereotypes; SMART PEOPLE (15, 95 Mins) Comedy/Drama/Romance. Dennis Quaid, Ellen Page, Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ashton Holmes. Director: Noam Murro. Intelligence Is a Poor Substitute for Common Sense and Good Manners

Article excerpt

That's certainly the case in Smart People, a pithy coming of middle age story about a fusty university professor who can wax lyrical about the poems of William Carlos Williams but is incapable of stringing together three monosyllabic words: I, love, you.

Novelist Mark Poirier, who makes his screenwriting debut, traverses familiar territory to The Savages, Sideways and The Squid And The Whale.

He enforces the idea that intelligent people are prone to the same acts of gross stupidity and insensitivity as the rest of us - they just say the wrong thing with elan.

Thus, when the professor is faced with the terrifying prospect of post coital conversation, the best opening gambit he can bluster is, "I'm not used to condoms but I thought it went well."

Poirier tends to paint his characters as caricatures, defining them by idiosyncrasies: for the professor, it's his fear of traveling in the passenger seat; for another family member, the habit of sleeping in the nude.

Cue repeated glimpses of a bare backside mooning defiantly from beneath the sheets.

The most well-adjusted person in the film is the teenage son, who embraces university life to the full.

Inevitably, he's afforded the least screen time: normality isn't interesting.

Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Quaid), a self-obsessed authority on Victorian literature, is consistently rude to his students at Carnegie Mellon university, doling out meagre grades for their hard work.

He has little time for excuses, and even less time for his estranged son James (Holmes), who is more concerned with his girlfriend than academic excellence. …