Smart People

Ellen Page sort of stars in this movie. Actually, Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker are the headliners, but they’re cringe-inducingly awful. It’s like watching a train wreck turn into a mudslide and wipe out a village of handicapped orphan baby hippos. But when they’re not on screen, Ellen Page is, and I’m now convinced she’s a good comic actress, because she makes at least parts of this movie work, which is sort of like creating life by scooping up some dirt and blowing on it. Quaid is the Stiff, Self-Absorbed English Professor. Parker is the Hot Doctor (that’s what they call her, having apparently highly attenuated the sense of the word “hot”) who treats and then falls in love with him. Thomas Haden Church is The Stiff Professor’s Zany, Free-Loading Brother. The main plotline is as obvious as John McCain’s comb-over, and about 25 percent of the dialogue is painful exposition. But otherwise, Page, as the Stiff Professor’s Daughter With The Electra Complex, manages to squeeze some serious laughs out of this dog. So, you know, maybe you can sit through this, but I’d wait for it to come out on cable, and then not watch it there.

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