Smart People

Rated 2.0

First-time filmmakers Noam Murro (director) and Mark Poirier (writer) offer a look at a dysfunctional middle-class family: a pompous, misanthropic college professor (Dennis Quaid), his feckless ne’er-do-well brother (Thomas Haden Church) and his snotty Young Republican teenage daughter (Ellen Page, recycling Juno with less piquant dialogue). There’s also a son played by Ashton Holmes, but he merely dances around the edges making no impression whatever. In any event, into this listless mix stumbles a doctor (Sarah Jessica Parker), a former student of Quaid’s who still has a schoolgirl crush on him. And what happens? Well, not much, actually. Stifling the vitality of a cast like that couldn’t have been easy, but Murro and Poirier manage to do it, blanketing the film with a dreary coating of deadpan gloom.