Saturday, April 19, 2008

Smart People

I haven't given you the privilege of hearing my take on last week's movie choice, "Smart People." I know that you wait breathlessly for my opinion before paying to see anything, and I apologize for this spring being such a disappointment - but let's be honest, nothing is going to match last year's 62 film record. It's not just the move and new apartment taking up time, but the reality that with my increased monthly expenses I really shouldn't be dropping $100 a month at the movies.

(Don't panic; there is a solution. The neighborhood theater has matinee showings - even on weekends - and I don't really need to buy the popcorn and soda. I can smuggle in a bottle of diet coke and some low-cal, satisfying snack. Right?)

Man, I love popcorn.

"Smart People" was a disappointment, okay? That's why I'm procrastinating about writing about it. I think it partially collapsed under the weight of its own buzz - poised too neatly to be the next indie darling, with the added advantage of having cribbed stars from two of the most recent (Thomas Hayden Church from "Sideways" and Ellen Page from "Juno.") And Dennis Quaid, who is a solid, enjoyable actor, and of course, Miss Sarah Jessica Parker who has her own devout following (beyond the Gawker commenters who knock each other down to come up with another way to liken her to a horse.)

I loved "Sex and the City" in its heyday, but I have not loved an SJP movie since "Miami Rhapsody" where she did a near pitch-perfect female Woody Allen, complete with Mia Farrow at her side (albeit as mom, not lover.) Throw in Antonio Banderas as a sexy nursing home nurse and the always fun to watch Carla Gugino as a cheating newlywed, and you're off and running.

But when I think of SJP's post "Sex" career, it's "The Family Stone" (one of the most disappointing romantic comedies of that or any year, with SJP as an uptight city bitch so over-the-top she wears a business suit and high heels to her husband's family holiday) or "Failure to Launch" which boasts an entire film overshadowed by the sight of Terry Bradshaw's naked ass. (Not a metaphor, sadly.)

And now we put SJP and her heels and her black bra in a doctor's white coat. (Apparently, that bit in her "Sex" contract about not showing her breasts which resulted in playing every sex scene still wearing her bra is still intact, as she rolls away from Dennis Quaid and there are the damned black bra straps. Seriously, there was no risk of boob flesh in that shot, so the straps were just distracting.) I actually heard an interview with SJP where she claimed that she liked doing roles like the doctor, where she could dress like a "normal person" and not Carrie Bradshaw. Honey, small town emergency room doctors do not wear tight sleeveless dresses and four inch pumps. (Unless they are in a porn film.) Just because you aren't wearing the big fake flowers or the gold "Carrie" necklace or the short-shorts, doesn't mean you are dressing like Everywoman.

Oh, the film itself? You know, I think it suffered unfairly in my mind because I happened to watch "The Squid and the Whale" on cable the night before, which is another film about a distant snobby intellectual professor struggling with relationships with his children. It's a very different film, I know, but close enough that I kept accusing Dennis Quaid of doing a Jeff Bridges impression. And yet Quaid is still decent, as is Page as his daughter and Church as his adopted brother, but the film itself just doesn't hang together, and at the end you're wondering why anyone bothered to make it. Not good, not bad, just blah.


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