Archives / 2008 Sundance Film Festival

Smart People

Director: Noam Murro

Screenwriters: Mark Jude Poirier

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival

Description

Smart People is the darkly comic story of Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid), a widowed, acerbic, and self-absorbed literature professor who has alienated his son and turned his daughter into an overachieving, friendless teen. He falls for Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker), one of his former students; at the same time, his ne’er-do-well brother (played by Thomas Haden Church) unexpectedly shows up at his door, low on cash and needing a place to stay. Suddenly, Lawrence's well-thought-out, though not well-managed, life comes crashing down on him. All the intelligence in the world can’t unstick his life.

A seasoned commercial director, Noam Murro is no stranger behind a camera, but Smart People surely signals the beginning of an accomplished new career in feature filmmaking. The script by Mark Jude Poirier is razor sharp, and the obvious rapport among the ensemble cast members makes for a healthy dose of well-conceived humor. Mixing comedy genres, including just a hint of modern slapstick, Murro proves he has an assured grasp on what any good adult comedy needs—an expert balance of pace and pathos. Smart People traces the amusing series of events that trigger, in one man, the need to change and reconnect with his family before he can take the first step forward.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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