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Wonder Boys (2000)
Academy Award® Winner
An english professor (Michael Douglas) who hasn't published anything since he wrote his award-winning Great American Novel 7 years ago is facing anxiety and self-doubt before his college's annual...  View more >

Starring Michael Douglas, Robert Downey Jr, Frances McDormand...  View more >

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Reviews Summary


Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

[--- Good ---]by  
Mar 2, 2000
I enjoyed this film and was impressed by the characters that surrounded Douglas. I found myself identifying with Professor Tripp and his search to find that excitement in life that was missing. Teacher being taught by his strange student writer and the fight for renewed love and spirit in his life brought me in and I found myself a part of this film.

Go see this slightly dark humorous soul searching film. I left the film thinking that I have so much more to give in my life and I should start now. Nothing realy matters and everything matters.
[--- See Now! ---]by  
Mar 3, 2000
We are not so much defined by the strange, often humorous events taking place around us - but rather, it is our interpretation of those events where true definition of self rests.

At least, that's the way it is for Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas), an English professor in Pittsburgh whose university will be hosting "Wordfest," an annual literary festival during the next two days. Grady will be confronted by an array of unusual incidents and circumstances during this time - events that aren't mere coincidences, but are meant to inch him toward what is truly important. All he has to do is pay attention.

Yet that is easier said than done for Grady. He is a former "wonder boy" - defined as someone who's had great success at a young age but then lives the remainder of his life in fear of never being able to live up to his early glory. His particular success came in the form of a Great American Novel entitled "The Arsonist's Daughter." It's been seven years since its
publication, and his editor (Robert Downey Jr.) is growing concerned regarding the completion of his latest effort. The author has been working feverishly on his creation, but is unable to complete it - an affliction that doesn't stop him from writing. It has increased in size to over two-thousand pages since its inception. Finishing it would mean leaving himself open to the kind of criticisms that could permanently damage his desire to ever write again - the
expectations are dangerously high for his follow-up.

But the book is only a small problem Grady will have to face. His wife has just left him, and his affair with the college chancellor (Frances McDormand) has resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. Add to that a brilliant yet unstable student (Tobey Maguire), an egotistical author (Rip Torn) who was seemingly catapulted to stardom by pretentiousness rather than talent, a cantankerous dog, and another talented student (Katie Holmes) whose feelings for her teacher lie slightly beyond the typical teacher/student relationship, and you get a weekend that will change the direction of Grady's life forever, if he can realize it before everything comes crashing down.

At a time when so many movies seem to revel in their predictability, "Wonder Boys" is a true breath of fresh air - a movie that grabs the audience's attention without ever letting them in on where its story is headed. There are humorous moments that aren't labored and touching moments not shadowed by false sentimentality. The film was directed by Curtis Hanson, whose "L.A. Confidential" was one of the best films from a couple years ago, yet in a way I hold a stronger admiration for his effort this time around. The temptation must have been enormous to tinker with the script - it's not a conventional storyline, but instead a gently scribed screen adaptation by Steve ("The Fabulous Baker Boys") Kloves from the book by Michael Chabon. Unlike many other screenplays, the characters in this story are the focal point to which everything else hinges upon - a risky proposition in today's Hollywood. Hanson
understands exactly what is going on here, and wisely resists the temptation to make alterations to the story he's been given. The result is a film that took risks with its approach and passed with flying colors.

Essentially the movie has been put square in the hands of the actors, and Hanson has acquired a cast clearly up to the challenge. Michael Douglas is one of our very finest actors, although at times he has a tendency to select scripts that are beneath the level of talent he can bring to the role. This is one of his better choices, and he plays it perfectly. It's a tricky balancing act - we have to like Grady Tripp, despite his flaws and creative stubborness.
But at the same time, his negative character traits cannot have a false ring to them. If they do, the impact of his decisions later in the story would be tragically undermined. Douglas has a great deal on his shoulders here, but carries it off without a hitch. Tobey ("The Cider House Rules") Maguire finds the right note for the unstable James Leer - one of Grady's students who has "wonder boy" potential himself. The always wonderful Frances McDormand is terrific as the woman who loves Grady, but also has the wisdom to suspect that he may never be able to commit to her unconditionally - it's a subtle yet moving performance. Robert Downey Jr. creates a very funny and unusual character in Crabtree, Grady's editor whose comfort in his unorthodox lifestyle is so potent, it can draw anyone close to him. And Katie (TV's "Dawson's Creek") Holmes is very effective as an intelligent student of literature driven by sensitivity. She houses a love and respect for Grady that is so genuine, at one point she is able to express to him the flaw in his latest creative endeavor - she cares for him that much.

All of these wonderfully embodied characters find themselves in a situation basking in the light of absurdity - but also a light where true meaning and contentment lies waiting at the other end. Grady Tripp isn't the victim of predestination - but instead must find what's most important to him and choose the appropriate path. The events surrounding him are the proverbial hand of
God, whose palm collides with his forehead until he wises up and makes that decision. It's a defining moment for the writer, and a terrific movie-going experience for the viewer.

--Michael Brendan, "Mad Dog" Film Reviews (www.maddogreviews.com)
[--- See Now! ---]by  
Mar 7, 2000
Wonder Boys will without a doubt be on my top 10 list at the end of the year. It's easily one of the ten best films of 2000.

Michael Douglas has never before played such a complex character, and he pulls it off perfectly. The entire story is wonderfully structured and has a sense of humor that's in a league of its own. At times it's extremely risky and could easily fall flat, but never does.

It's this years Ice Storm, combined with better off-beat comedy
than Out of Sight.
(**** stars out of ****)

http://www.homestead.com/flickpicks/home.html
[--- Wait for Rental ---]by  
Mar 27, 2000
Wow - I am astonished at the reviews listed here. I am a very large Michael Douglas fan - even liking some of his not-so-loved movies. Not only did I think that this was one of Michael Douglas'worst performances - but I felt this movie was unbelievable and undeniably silly - so silly I only laughed once and that was because he was wearing a woman's robe in some parts (not very funny either).

The other characters/actors did a great acting job - however, again the story was not believable and often just too silly for me. I myself probably wouldn't even rent this one after seeing it...but you should at least rent it and see for yourself.
Mar 8, 2001
"Wonder Boys" is a amazing film. Michael Douglas plays a professor who has plenty of problems. He the reason to see this film.
Aug 29, 2003
It was off-beat enough to be likable, and Michael Douglas does an excellent job portraying a 50-something professor that wrote one great book and then nothing else of note.

Recommended.

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