Pay attention, Smart People

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Actors say movie gives life lesson in academic intelligence vs. common sense

The publics perception of their profession isnt exactly synonymous with soaring IQ scores, but Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church and Dennis Quaid say Smart People may prove a thing or two to the narrow-minded masses.

The publics perception of their profession isnt exactly synonymous with soaring IQ scores, but Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church and Dennis Quaid say Smart People may prove a thing or two to the narrow-minded masses.

I think the first thing to bear in mind is what happens to these people over the course of this movie, says Parker. Theyre supposedly really bright, but they often make really bad decisions. Things arent any easier for them because they are intellectually astute. If anything, things are almost tougher because they have no sense of perspective. I think thats part of what (the filmmakers) were saying in this story: Being book smart doesnt necessarily translate into life smarts.

To be good at living, you have to be willing to live - and for Denniss character, thats clearly the big dilemma.

In a matter of mere seconds, Parker has successfully dissected the complex network of denial and desire that forms the dramatic core of Smart People, a dramedy from first-time feature director Noam Murro and screenwriter Mark Jude Poirier.

A dysfunctional family story with an Ivy League lineage, Smart People rotates around the stick lost somewhere on Lawrence Wetherholds body. Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) is a miserable widower who still feels the bitterness of abandonment after his wifes untimely death, and he takes it out on his college students whenever hes given the opportunity.

Unfeeling and frequently rude, Wetherhold is the town curmudgeon with an equally uptight daughter (Ellen Page). But when an accident forces him out of his car, his brother (Church) and a young doctor (Parker) help clear the storm from Wetherholds heart.

If you think everyone in this movie is smart except for my character, you really are stupid, says Church, who plays Wetherholds academically disinterested sibling. My character sees what everyone else misses.

Its true. The beautiful irony of Poiriers script is the way it positions the smartest people in the room as completely clueless when it comes to matters of common sense and basic emotion.

Quaid says the power dynamics are constantly shifting in the film, and as an actor, thats part of what you look for.

I think you always want a character to surprise you as youre reading through a script for the first time. And these two people are supposed to be so smart - and they are - but that doesnt make them any better equipped at life itself. So they kind of screw things up and make mistakes. Theyre on shaky ground the entire time, but they eventually learn lessons that cant be found on the bookshelf, says Quaid.



Organizations: Thomas Haden Church, Ivy League

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