Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid), a self-obsessed authority on Victorian literature, is rude to his students and disengaged from his family.
His humdrum routine is thrown into disarray when his pot-smoking adopted brother Chuck (Haden Church) turns up uninvited. Soon, the slacker sibling is offering Lawrence tips on dating a former student (Sarah Jessica Parker), and fending off the amorous advances of his over-achieving niece (Juno’s Ellen Page).
'Smart People' is a pithy coming-of-middle-age story. Screenwriter Mark Poirier tends to paint his characters as caricatures, defining them by idiosyncrasies or foibles. He has a wry one-liner for every crisis but the Wetherholds are too glib and their reactions too cute to be credible, even if Quaid’s emotionally stunted widower is surprisingly endearing.