Smart People - Movie Synopsis & Plot
Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) might be imperiously brilliant, monumentally self-possessed and an intellectual giant – but when it comes to solving the conundrums of love and family, he's as downright flummoxed as the next guy. His teenaged daughter (Ellen Page) is an acid-tongued overachiever who follows all too closely in dad's misery-loving footsteps, and his adopted, preposterously ne'er-do-well brother (Thomas Haden Church) has perfected the art of freeloading. A widower who can't seem to find passion in anything anymore, not even the Victorian Literature in which he's an expert, it seems Lawrence is sleepwalking through a very stunted middle age. When his brother shows up unexpectedly for an extended stay at just about the same time as he accidentally encounters his former student Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker), the circumstances cause him to stir from his deep, deep freeze, with often comical, sometimes heartbreaking, consequences for himself and everyone around him.
Intelligence is often mistaken for discipline. We, as a society, attribute intelligence to those in certain professions, like doctors and professors. While this certainly makes the trait more explicitly identifiable and easily defined, it's overlooking a great deal of complexity surrounding emotional and cognitive intelligence. In order to succeed in the world of academia, there is a natural acceptance of social signifiers and constructs. There is a belief in the measure of worth by one's ability to succeed given pre-determined criteria. The neuroses and naturally inquisitive nature of intelligence often conflicts with this structure as it is implicit and flawed. This is why disciplined may be a more accurate way of describing those in challenging professions, as their roles in no way imply a natural human understanding beyond those of their peers. It implies only that they excel at standardized testing, or come from a rich family. Which is not to be dismissed at all, discipline is an enviable characteristic. However, it is not intelligence.
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