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Smart People

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The social inferiority that can result from a mental superiority complex affects English prof Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) and his daughter Vanessa (Ellen Page). When Lawrence’s pothead adopted brother Chuck (Thomas Haden Church) visits, it confirms what they’d suspected: Life is easier for the stupid. Smart People adds a jangly guitar score to the family comedy friction of Dan in Real Life and The Family Stone, which was braver in examining the limits of those who pride themselves on tolerance. Mark Jude Poirier’s script keeps the personalities distinct, but they only almost have motivated stories. Scenes repeatedly end on almost-jokes. It’s quaint enough to cause drowsiness.

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