A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
By Jim Emerson, editor
Ask most reasonably bright, movie-review-reading people what qualities they value most in a mate or a motion picture, and the winning combo will likely be "smart and funny." "Beautiful" is right up there, too, though not everybody wants to volunteer as much in the first round of questioning.
"Smart People" is fairly intelligent, mildly amusing and clinically depressed. If you put it next to brilliant pictures about emotionally stymied writers/academics, like "The Squid and the Whale," "Wonder Boys" or "The Accidental Tourist," it looks a bit dull, like the dour professor who never removes his tweed jacket -- the one with the leather elbow patches.
Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) doesn't wear that particular jacket, probably only because his skin is already made out of the same materials. He's as glum and flinty as they come, a lit professor so indifferent to his students that he barely acknowledges their existence. Limping stiffly across the gray-brown Pittsburgh grounds of Carnegie-Mellon University, he looks like he could have stumbled over from the set of local auteur George A. Romero's living dead pictures.