Isn’t it funny when intelligent people do stupid things?
Dysfunctional families are a staple of indie filmmaking, providing the perfect backdrop for mixing comedy and drama. (As evidence, see: Dan in Real Life, Little Miss Sunshine, The Upside of Anger, Pieces of April, The Squid and the Whale.) Unfortunately, these seriocomic clans have become something of a crutch lately--as easy a subject for one’s first screenplay as road movies were in the ’90s. On the surface of their new film Smart People, first-time filmmakers Mark Poirier (he wrote it) and Noam Murro (he directed it) are in danger of stepping into all the cliché pitfalls of the genre. Fortunately, an intelligent script and a fine cast conspire to make this a sharper-than-average slice of indie satire.