This is a stupid, petty, small-minded little film that plays like an A-Z of the worst of American 'Indie'.

Following the lives of a selection of brainy types, with an intellectual pygmy or two thrown in here and there for contrast, it tells the story of arrogant university lecturer Lawrence Wetherhold (Quaid), his troubled family life, his attempt to find someone female to listen to his tedious wind-bagging sermons and his efforts to publish his tedious wind-bagging book.

Early on, the film focuses on Lawrence's relationship with his verbose daughter, 'Young Republican' Vanessa (Page). She struggles to connect with people her own age and is obsessed with her SATs. Occasionally, the film swings by Lawrence's less obviously 'smart' son James (Holmes) and his deadbeat brother Chuck (Church).

James, by the way, is also a 'smart person', thanks to his poetry. Chuck, though, is not smart, except in a hokum, homespun-wisdom sort of way. Lawrence doesn't like Chuck, but Chuck moves in with the family for typically clichéd reasons.

Enter Janet (Parker; blameless and doing her best). Janet is a former student of Lawrence's who abandoned English Literature, after receiving an average mark, and became a doctor. Years later, he ends up on her treatment table with a minor head injury (why not an incurable disease that would have caused him to die screaming? That would have been worth seeing!).

Somehow, Lawrence and Janet end up going out on a date and, with no help from chemistry or logic, things progress from bad to slightly better. They end up 'together'. At the same time, Lawrence's boring book, 'dumbed down' of course, interests a publisher.

After this, some more plot happens, much of it involving Vanessa's like/dislike of Janet and Janet and Lawrence's relationship. An odd and fairly pointless subplot that follows Vanessa and Chuck's relationship also gets an outing.

Shot in dull tones, it's unfunny, pretentious and boring and meanders towards an end in which nothing terribly climactic or interesting happens. Is there anything worse than 'black' comedy that totally fails to hit the mark?

The sole redeeming feature is Page, who has genuine charisma and talent. Be sure to see her in something else.

Brendan Cole