Smart People

[Amazon Link] [3.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

The action here centers around Carnegie-Mellon English prof Lawrence Wetherhold, played by Dennis Quaid. He's a widower, and a misanthropic mess. In an economical illustration of his mindset, he habitually parks his Saab diagonally across two parking spaces.

This is the nearest thing a University has to a capital offense; when his car is towed, Wetherhold's temper and impatience land him in the hospital, where he's cared for by an ex-student, Janet, played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Will love bloom between these two? If you've seen, like, three movies in your entire life, you should already know the answer.

There is a rich supporting cast, most notably Thomas Haden Church playing Lawrence's brother ("adopted brother," as Lawrence unhesitatingly points out to everyone); he's an anti-academic, a careerless stoner and perpetual mooch. And there's daughter Vanessa, a Young Republican high school senior, engaged in cutthroat competition for college admission; she's played by Ellen Page, widely known from Juno. These characters bounce off each other in unexpected but believable ways.

It's easy to make characters like this tedious and unlikeable, but (at least for me), the strong script and acting talent, especially from Dennis Quaid, prevented that.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 3:52 PM EDT