Reviewer's grade: B
You know the drill: Cold, arrogant intellectual learns to embrace life and love. "Smart People" won't win any awards for originality, but what it lacks in unpredictability is made up for with intelligent filmmaking and an impressive cast. Dennis Quaid stars as Lawrence Wetherhold, a misanthropic college professor grieving the death of his wife.
His contempt for humanity starts to thaw when he inches toward romance with an ER doctor (Sarah Jessica Parker, TV's "Sex and the City"). Meanwhile, the prof' s equally brilliant but insufferable daughter (Ellen Page, "Juno") loosens up a bit when Lawrence's ne'er-do-well brother (Thomas Haden Church, "Sideways") shows up.
The movie marks the feature debut for director Noam Murro, a maker of commercials who wisely foregoes the visual snappiness of advertising. Instead, he and screenwriter Mark Poirier focus on creating complex, flawed and funny characters. "Smart People" falls short of greatness, but smart moviegoers could do much worse. R