Smart People (2008) [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama
Miramax || R - 95 minutes - $34.99 || August 12, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-08-07


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Noam Murro
Writer(s): Mark Poirier (written by)
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, Ellen Page


Theatrical Release Date: April 11, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Smartest People - Interviews
  • Smart People at Sundance
  • Outtake Reel


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (PCM 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Dennis Quaid stars as Lawrence Wetherhold, a professor at the local college who no one likes. While visiting his son who resents him, his car is towed away by campus security and after trying to poorly negotiate getting his car out, Lawrence takes it upon himself to attempt to break in to the impound lot and winds up hurting himself. While in the hospital he meets a former student Dr. Janet Hartigan (Sarah Jessica Parker), who, like most of his students, despises him for being the asshole that he truly is.

After being diagnosed with having suffered a concussion (and now being unable to legally drive for six months) his good for nothing adopted brother Chuck (Thomas Hayden Church) offers to drive him where ever he needs to go for some money and a place to live. Lawrence decides to let Chuck live with him and his misfit daughter Vanessa (Ellen Page) and while there, shows Vanessa there is better things to do then sit and study all day.

Smart People has been done before and what you will see is nothing new. A little bit of Dan in Real Life, a touch of Sideways, and a dash of The Family Stone make this an amazing movie if you like any of those three films. For me, I loved Dan in Real Life as it not only tugged on your heart strings a bit, but brought some laughs along the way as well. Smart People follows a very similar formula (widowed husband with kids who has a goofy brother and falls in love with someone else), but makes the story just a bit tighter by excluding the huge cast that Dan had.

I’ve been a huge fan of Ellen Page ever since I saw her in Hard Candy and have since followed most of her theatrical career. While her role in X-Men the Last Stand was minimal, most know her for is the indie film Juno (which I love - even though its been blow out of proportion as of late). In Smart People she shines. Everything I love about her floats to the top as she portrays a smart misfit with no friends who tries a bit too hard to be the wife of the family where she should really be focusing on herself. She is without a doubt one the freshest young faces in Hollywood so hopefully her trend in quality films continues.

As for the rest of the cast, I once again enjoy Dennis Quaid in almost everything he has done. He hits ever mark on being the grumpy, self loving asshole that strangely reminds me of Hugh Laurie's role on TV's “House”. If you like “House” at all, you'll enjoy this film as it’s almost like watching an episode where Hugh Laurie teaches college.

However, I do believe that Sarah Jessica Parker was horribly miscast and should have been replaced with someone that has some sort of emotional acting experience. It’s a shame that Rachel Weisz dropped out of the part early on as she could have easily brought a lot more to the table.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All Special Features are presented in SD unless otherwise noted.

Commentary with Filmmaker Noam Murro and Writer Mark Jude Poirier - A very somber discussion regarding the film and how it was not only written, but how the characters were portrayed. Not all that interesting.

Deleted Scenes (9:51) - A collection of almost a dozen deleted scenes all of which serve very little purpose being included in the film. Only one of them I liked (Vanessa Smokes).

The Smartest People (Interviews) (16:34; HD) - A good look at the production of the film and how each actor was cast in their roles. It’s accompanied by, of course, numerous clips of the film per minute.

Smart People at Sundance (4:04) - Presented as an Easter egg (keep pressing down on the extra menu and eventually this one will pop up) is an incredibly boring poorly recorded video of Thomas Hayden Church talking.

Also included is a short outtake reel (2:02).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Smart People is presented in 2.40:1 (AVC/MPEG-4) on a GB disc. Another excellent picture presentation by Disney. Colors look very vibrant and for the few dark scenes showcased in the film black levels look terrific. While the film has a few scenes where grain is apparent, those scenes are few and far in between.

Sony continues the trend with an Uncompressed 5.1 PCM track in English. Since the movie is very dialog heavy (with only a touch of music every once and a while) my rear speakers were barley active. While some other studios may skimp on a lossless track *cough* Warner *cough*, Disney seems content to gives us the option on every single movie they bring to the Blu-ray format, regardless of it being a brand new Day and Date release or a catalog title. Also included is a standard English Dolby Digital 5.1 track.



.::OVERALL::.

Smart People didn't last long in theaters but hopefully it will find its footing on DVD/Blu-ray. With great picture and sound this makes a great purchase for your Blu-ray library.