Thursday, September 11, 2008

CTJ/Smart People **1/2

A middling but winning-enough indie-comedy featuring Ellen Page, Dennis Quaid, Sara-Jessica Parker, and Thomas Hayden-Church. The cast was great, but the writing could have been developed much more. There were characters and plotlines that felt only half-formed, and although there were beautiful musical montages/interludes, they did not necessarily serve to propel the plot forward. I enjoyed it, but I wanted more. It was a lot like a half-baked cookie that gets served before it’s ready to eat. And yep, it definitely belongs in the same barrel as so many indie-film clich├ęs – dysfunctional family, literate/articulate family members who are anti-establishment, meandering through life as if entirely lost, etc. All the ingredients that you have tasted before and, although not bad in and of themselves, nothing terribly special either. This has become an overused blueprint for indie-success, as Danny so often points out. There is nothing wrong with tried and true blueprints being used again and again, but the viewer does get the sense of “Been there, done that. What makes this film unique/worthy of my time? Why wouldn’t I just watch Juno again or Little Miss Sunshine? They did the same thing, and they did it better.”

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