Smart People

Well, it's official. After a promising beginning ("Breaking Away" and "The Big Easy"), a middling early adulthood ("The Parent Trap" - 1998 and "Traffic"), plus a fairly attractive and/or comic maturity ("In Good Company" and "American Dreamz"), time finally has caught up with him; Dennis Quaid will NEVER be a heartthrob! His bulbous nose and potbelly are quietly obvious as he portrays Lawrence Weatherhold, a widowed professor who is stuck in his grief, pretty much ignoring his college-student son James, played by Ashton Holmes ("A History of Violence" and "Peaceful Warrior"), and his ambitious daughter Vanessa, played by Ellen Page ("Juno" and "X-Men III"), who is striving for a perfect SAT score.

Lawrence is a combination curmudgeon and self-centered pontificator, bullying his students and thumbing his nose at campus rules, e.g., he routinely takes up two parking spaces by leaving his car at an insulting angle which hogs both of them. After his car is towed for the umpteenth time by campus security, he angrily climbs the chain-link fence to retrieve his briefcase from his impounded car. While climbing back over the fence, he suffers a seizure which lands him in the hospital where a former student Janet Hartigan, played by Sarah Jessica Parker ("Failure to Launch" and "The Family Stone") is his ER doctor.

Because she reported the seizure to the Motor Vehicle Department as required by law, he isn't allowed to drive for six months. This means his ne'er-do-well adopted brother Chuck, played by Thomas Haden Church ("Sideways" and "Idiocracy"), might earn his keep after all, by serving as his driver for the interim.

Each of these actors are capable enough, but the movie just didn't come alive for me. Perhaps some of the witty dialog which I missed because of my hearing, might have redeemed it, but I couldn't for the life of me see why any of the characters were attracted to any of the others; although I DID appreciate the wisdom displayed by Chuck when he found himself in an untenable situation.

As I had said in my review of "Juno" last year, Ellen Page is a talent to watch, and this movie does nothing to dispel that opinion. She is attractive, capable and eminently watchable... But Quaid? In my opinion, it's too late now...