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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A father practically neglects his children and relegates adult responsibilities to his teen daughter, who's eager to please but is desperately lonely and disconnected from him and on the verge of becoming a bitter person. A couple finds it difficult to connect, and the woman lies to finesse an awkward situation. An uncle, in an attempt to help a young relative, introduces her to drugs and alcohol.
Violence & Scariness
Nothing more than yelling and arguing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Frank discussion about how condoms feel after a couple has sex (they're shown in bed, presumably naked, though they're under a blanket). Some kissing and groping (in bars and during dates), and some lascivious comments. A man's naked backside is flashed a few times, presumably for comic effect.
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Runs the gamut from low-level insults like "moron" to curse words like "s--t" and "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
Carnegie Mellon is practically a character in the film; a Wellesley College sweatshirt is a high-visibility prop; close-up shot of Marlboro Lights. Signage for the Omni Hotel, Saab, etc. Mention of Penguin Books.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some drinking and drug use (mostly marijuana) by grown-ups, teens, and young adults. Lots of drinking at restaurants and pubs (social situations) and alone (times of despair and oblivion). A character smokes cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film -- which co-stars Elliot Page, who'll no doubt attract a fair share of young Juno fans -- is more dramatic than comic, tackling heavy themes like grief and parental indifference. There's also an iffy sexual interaction -- and it's clearly played out as such -- and a surprise pregnancy (though unlike Juno, it's not the central plot line). Both grown-ups and teens discuss sexual matters candidly, and there's some swearing (including "f--k"), a fair amount of drinking (an adult buys drinks for a minor), and teen drug use (again, instigated by an adult). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Mostly smart, sometimes slack, SMART PEOPLE -- which is based on a book by Mark Jude Poirier, who also wrote the script -- refreshingly allows its characters to develop at their own pace. Their discoveries feel natural; their responses unforced and believable. It's a credit to first-time director Noam Murro who, though he makes mistakes, is able to steer his actors into portrayals that are authentic and true. Page is sardonic once more, but this is no Juno retread; in fact, he filmed this first. He ably modulates his emotions to best fit the script. Same for Parker, who flexes her dramatic muscles here. Like his character, Haden Church ingratiates himself successfully -- a potentially creepy storyline is made less so, thanks to his and Page's talent. And Quaid deserves praise for a complex performance.
But there is one big quibble. The first half of the movie is notably more interesting than the second, maybe because the latter half moves inexorably toward a happily-ever-after ending. Lawrence is far more compelling -- and real -- when he's stuck, and his transformation, when it happens, seems hurried along. And while Quaid and Parker have a surprisingly believable chemistry, it's not clear what binds them together when their characters clearly have enough reasons to be apart. Perfect it's not, but Smart People is admirable enough and definitely worth a watch.
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Our Editors Recommend
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