Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Smart People

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, brief teen drug and alcohol use, and for some sexuality.
Profanity:Very strong language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and non-explicit situations
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking and drug use by adults and teen
Violence/Scariness:Peril, accident with injury, reference to sad off-screen death
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:April 11, 2008

A burned-out literature professor named Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) has written an “unpublishable” book called The Price of Postmodernism: Epistemology, Hermeneutics and the Literary Canon. Of course it is unpublishable. Everyone knows that the part of the title that comes before the colon in literary works is supposed to be self-consciously cutesy. A book like that should be called something like A Bad Slammin’ Groove: Epistemology, etc. I suppose it is a symptom of Lawrence’s ennui and disconnection that he has lost the essential ability for preserving that academic necessity: a snarky combination of smug superiority over popular culture and even smugger superiority over the ability to speak in its patois.

Lawrence, his college-student son James (Ashton Holmes from “A History of Violence”) and his college-applying high school senior daughter Vanessa (“Juno’s” Ellen Page) are each floating around in separate bell jars, suspended in space, all the air sucked out by anger and loss, all three unable to communicate and unaware of how much pain they are in. Lawrence’s brother Chuck (“my adopted brother,” he reminds everyone — played by Thomas Hayden Church) moves in. Yes, he will prove to be the life force confronting the dessicated souls so out of touch with their true feelings. But Church and the screenwriter, novelist Mark Poirier, give him more perspective and more spine than these characters usually display. “These children haven’t been properly parented in many years,” he tells one visitor. “They’re practically feral. That’s why I was brought in.” And he believes it.

Poirier appreciated literature and he knows how to create characters who talk (and don’t talk) about what is going on like educated people. He has not quite worked out the difference between a novel and a movie, however; he still tells too much and shows too little. An exceptional cast takes the material as far as it can go, but it still feels synthetic and its sense of tone is uncertain, biting here (faculty committee, unpublishable tome), sentimental there (how many times do we have to see a grieving spouse who can’t clean out the closet?). Quaid is especially strong and Parker lets us see her sweetness and longing, but Page’s and Church’s characters are underwritten and it feels like it all gets tied up too hastily. The characters might be too smart for their own good, but the movie could use a few more IQ points.



Previous Posts

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
It seems no different at first. While the second in the "Hunger Games" series ended with the surprise last-minute rescue of heroine Katniss Everden (Jennifer Lawrence), and the even bigger surprise th

posted 5:59:24pm Nov. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Foxcatcher
John Eleuthère Du Pont was of the wealthiest men in the world. He was an ornithologist, a philatelist, a purchaser of military weapons (including a tank), a wrestling fan who set up a luxurious

posted 5:55:57pm Nov. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Pitch Perfect 2 -- The Pitch is Back!!
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/KBwOYQd21TY?rel=0" frameborder="0"] Acca-can't wait.

posted 11:01:45am Nov. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Tribute: Mike Nichols
We mourn the loss of director Mike Nichols, who died yesterday at age 83, survived by his wife, television journalist Diane Sawyer. Nichols began as part of the 1950's improvisational movement coming o

posted 8:16:09am Nov. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Wonder Woman's Amazing Secret History
Historian Jill Lepore is one of my favorite writers and I am also a Comic-Con-attending fangirl, so I was thrilled to get a chance to hear Professor Lepore speak at the Smithsonian about her new book, Th

posted 8:00:45am Nov. 20, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.