Wonder Boys

"Excellent"

Wonder Boys Review


I have no idea what "wonder boys" are. I assume it's one of many questions that are answered in the novel but which go ignored in this film adaptation.

As it turns out, it doesn't really matter who the Wonder Boys are. The film has enough substance and, especially, ribald and dark, dark humor to carry it despite a few minor flaws like this.

A very deep character study, Wonder Boys revolves around Pittsburgh professor and novelist Grady Tripp (Douglas), now struggling with his second novel, which has stretched into 2,600 pages and years in the making. Daytime, he teaches writing to the likes of James (Maguire) and Hannah (Holmes), while attempting to hide his affair with the (married) University Chancellor (McDormand) and keeping his unfinished novel from the grubby hands of his editor (Downey).

Grady's relationship with the talented (yet nearly sociopathic) James becomes the focus of the picture, as Grady tries to coax the hidden writing talent out of James, all while they take a wild ride together through a Pittsburgh winter storm.

The depth of character development in Wonder Boys defies any hack film critic's two-paragraph description of them. Suffice it to say that Wonder Boys is often deep and invariably quite funny, especially if you're a fan of black comedy. Case in point: The film really gets going when James kills the blind dog that is attacking Grady's leg. I never knew a dog's carcass could be so funny, and I'm something of an animal lover.

That said, Wonder Boys is no Kingpin. This is a sophisticated movie for a sophisticated audience. The cast is universally outstanding. It's especially good to see McDormand in a good role again, and Douglas and Maguire turn in very memorable performances, redeeming them both for some recent, lackluster pictures.

Go. Laugh. Enjoy a little intelligence at the movies for once.

The DVD release features a few interesting extras, most notably the interactive map of Pittsburgh, with narration by Curtis Hanson (much like he provided with the L.A. Confidential disc). It's a great letterboxed transfer, too.

Douglas Wondering.



Wonder Boys

Facts and Figures

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th February 2000

Budget: $35M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Curtis Hanson Productions, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), MFF Feature Film Productions, Marubeni, Mutual Film Company, Scott Rudin Productions, Toho-Towa

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 101 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Prof. Grady Tripp, as James Leer, as Dean Sara Gaskell, as Hannah Green, as Quentin 'Q' Morewood, Robert Downey Jr. as Terry Crabtree, as Oola, Michael Cavadias as Miss Antonia 'Tony' Sloviak, as Walter Gaskell, as Sam Traxler, as Emily's Father, as Amanda Leer, as Fred Leer


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Inside Out Movie Review

Inside Out Movie Review

Those bright sparks at Pixar have done it again, taking a fiercely original approach to...

Southpaw Movie Review

Southpaw Movie Review

Slick direction and meaty performances may be enough for some viewers, but this boxing drama's...

Eden Movie Review

Eden Movie Review

Loose and impressionistic, this beautifully shot film traces the career of a DJ who pioneered...

The Gallows Movie Review

The Gallows Movie Review

Without a single moment of originality, this found-footage horror movie really deserves to be the...

Advertisement
Self/Less Movie Review

Self/Less Movie Review

An intriguing premise keeps the audience gripped for about 20 minutes before the movie runs...

Ant-Man Movie Review

Ant-Man Movie Review

The increasingly stale Marvel formula gets a blast of fresh air in this rollocking adventure...

Love & Mercy Movie Review

Love & Mercy Movie Review

An unusually inventive approach brings this story to life, as the filmmakers get into the...

Ted 2 Movie Review

Ted 2 Movie Review

Fans of the surprise 2012 hit Ted will find plenty to love in this sequel,...

Advertisement