Smart People–Movie Review

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3 Stars
Did you ever have a college professor who was a complete, total insufferable jerk? I suppose in my time I may have had a run-in or two with a professor, but I don’t think I ever had one as bad as Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) in this edgy comedy.

Lawrence is an English Lit. professor who likes to humiliate his students, or anyone else whom he takes to be less intelligent, including his slacker brother Chuck (Thomas Haden Church.) Actually Chuck is his “adopted brother”, as Lawrence points out at every opportunity. The plot takes off after Lawrence, as a result of his own arrogance, suffers an injury that leaves him temporarily unable to drive, and Chuck moves in as his live-in chauffeur.

The best thing in the movie is Ellen Page as Lawrence’s daughter Vanessa. She manages to be both cute and scary as a smart and talented apprentice jerk. (Despite her snarky remarks she wants to be like her father, which I suppose in a twisted way suggests that he isn’t totally unredeemable.)

A movie with such an unlikable main character might be pretty unpleasant, but this has some pretty funny material that kept me entertained. (I particularly liked the dysfunctional Christmas dinner.) Some people may have a hard time swallowing the hero’s ultimate redemption, but by that time I was in a good enough mood that I was willing to make the effort to go along with it.