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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Smart People (2008/Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Miramax)

Smart People (2008/Blu-ray + DVD-Video/Miramax)


Picture: B/B-     Sound: B/C+     Extras: C-     Film: C-



Sometimes some people think they can take a good film and make it better, like the refrain about songs in The Beatles’ classic Hey Jude, but it always seems to go the opposite way in filmmaking and Noam Munro’s hideously bad Smart People (2008) is so anxious to be a heterosexual Wonder Boys (2000) that the film also takes place at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University and also involves a male lead professor (Dennis Quaid instead of Michael Douglas) in a mid-life crisis.  And it gets worse.


The banal script by Mark Jude Poirier thinks it is off-beat, but it is instead a smug stream of smug clichés and tired conventions of comedy/drama that feel more like a bad soap opera than drama you could ever believe.  Thomas Hayden Church is the brother of Quaid burning out (surprise) and in the ultimate cinematic sin, this train wreck brings together two of the most overrated female stars and would-be acting talents of our time: Sarah Jessica Parker and Ellen Page!


Talk about a nightmare.  CMU is supposed to be a place of higher education and one of the top colleges in the nation and even the world, but you would never know that from this exercise, smug all the way to its title.  All think they are so clever (though I like Quaid and Church, who could have found a better project) and 95 minutes seem like a bad semester of a class you never signed up for.  I was hoping a science project would lay low the female leads and maybe this could have made for an adequate story about brothers finding each other again, but then we’d miss Parker showing us what a great “actress” she is and how “smart” [ass] Page is by continuously playing the same character over and over again, unless she is playing a beating victim.  Any “smart people” who want to see this film will skip it and see Wonder Boys instead.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is surprisingly soft on the Blu-ray and in its lower-def, anamorphically enhanced DVD version much worse.  How was this shot?  It looks like bad HD, but either way, it is as badly shot as edited and makes CMU and the surrounding Pittsburgh area look bad.  The PCM 24/48 5.1 sound mix on the Blu-ray is better than the weak Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in both formats, it not by much since this is dialogue and joke based, but sound editing and the actual recording are sometimes substandard and that becomes annoying after one too many times.


Extras include a lame Munro/Poirier audio commentary, bloopers/outtakes reel ironically titled No So Smart, deleted scenes that could not have saved this mess and an interviews reel dubbed The Smartest People.  If you do suffer though this, we recommend Real Genius as the antidote and quickly!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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