A family has endured a tragedy. One family member in particular dealt poorly with said tragedy and is cantankerous. Another has glossed over their feelings and simply ignores the tragedy, while the family member that dealt with the tragedy comparatively well is misunderstood by the rest. Along comes out-of-town black sheep/wild card relative to reveal the error of their ways with his free spirit. This is the story of Smart People.
Familiar stories don't necessarily mean that a movie can't succeed, but when the outcome is predictable and the character development isn't satisfactory, then familiarity breeds contempt... or just plain mediocrity. Both the writer and director were having their first go round with SP, so I don't want to be too harsh here, but they didn't give us a reason to genuinely care for Dennis Quaid, the movie's main protagonist (I never felt connected to his [standoff-ish] character). Although Thomas Hayden Church, the family's proverbial black sheep, who's constantly referred to as Quaid's "adopted brother"--shades of Margot Tenenbaum here--was a good character, but wasn't exploited properly; the film relied on the repeated exposure of his bare bottom to garner laughs. Ellen Page, Quaid's daughter, did a fine job but I didn't feel like her character made much sense.
Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a bad movie... it just wasn't good either. This is where a Rotten Tomatoes review would be tricky because I wouldn't know whether to go fresh or rotten here (I guess if I'm tottering I should lean towards rotten since "fresh" is supposed to be an emblematic recommendation).
Final Grade: C/C-
Blurb: Smart People, Average Movie.