Hanson brings to life the interwoven plot, based on the novel by Michael Chabon, with warmth and humour. Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) is a middle-aged writer and English teacher at a Pittsburgh college, in a midlife rut professionally and personally, and with a penchant for recreational drugs. His mistress Sara (Frances McDormand) announces she is pregnant and his editor Terry (Robert Downey Jr) wants to know where Grady’s promised manuscript is. Talented student James (Tobey Maguire) enters the mix and entangles the ménage further. Great performances from the ensemble cast. “The movie is an unsprung screwball comedy, slowed down to real-life speed.” Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com. (Cert 15)
Dir: Curtis Hanson 107mins USA/Ger 2000
Directed by Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential,1997; 8 Mile, 2002), Wonder Boys is a comedy drama based on the offbeat 1995 novel by Michael Chabon – who also has screenplay writing credits for Spider Man 2 (2004) and John Carter (2012). Michael Douglas (The Game, 1997; Ant-Man, 2015) plays Professor Grady Tripp – whose third wife has just left him. In addition, his editor is waiting for him for finish a novel but currently, he has writer’s block. Amongst a slew of other problems assailing him is a student (Katie Holmes (Batman Begins, 2005; Phone Booth, 2002)) with a crush on him, a passionate entanglement with his (now pregnant) college Dean and a desperate search, with another student, the weird but talented James (Tobey Maguire (Sam Raimi’s Spider Man trilogy; Pleasantville, 1998)), to recover a stolen prized jacket once worn by Marilyn Monroe. How does this professor of English, living on the edge of catastrophe, deal with all this? In 2001, the film picked up an Oscar for Best Song for ‘Things Have Changed‘, performed by Bob Dylan. It was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing in that year. Curtis Hanson passed away, aged 71, in September 2016.
Ozu’s World Movie Reviews
“The most accurate movie about campus life that I can remember”
Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times
“A sweet screenful of quirky chaos”
Jay Carr, Boston Globe
“The first more-than-halfway-decent movie of the new millennium”
Wesley Morris, San Francisco Examiner
Professor Grady Tripp – Michael Douglas
James Leer – Tobey Maguire
Dean Sara Gaskell – Frances McDormand
Terry Crabtree – Robert Downey Jr.
Hannah Green – Katie Holmes
Quentin ‘Q’ Morewood – Rip Torn
Director – Curtis Hanson
Producers – Curtis Hanson, Scott Rudin
Screenplay – Michael Chabon, Steve Kloves
Cinematography – Dante Spinotti
Original Music – Christopher Young
- A great little gem, repaying rediscovery and appreciation. Stellar cast, sophisticated humour
- Most enjoyable. It was good to go home with a smile on my face. Excellent acting
- Entertaining, serious, fun – a lovable rascal!
- The most enjoyable comedy we have had for some time – good value
- Fun and funny! Enjoyed the predictable, ridiculous stories
- Most enjoyable – good portrait of ’60s/’70s. Loved the Citroen Pallas!
- I had no idea that Murphy’s Law (ie, anything that can go wrong, does go wrong) could be applied so relentlessly and to such good effect. Very enjoyable!
- Compelling – like watching a train-crash in slow motion
- Very entertaining – enjoyable and witty One crazy film – great music but soundtrack not good
- Indulgent but some nice twists to the formula!
- Entertaining – shades of Woody Allen and Willie Russell
- Dead dog in the bed better than a horse’s head!
- Quite amusing but I couldn’t hear much of the mumbled dialogue
- Sound quality made it hard to follow all the words
- Went on a bit too long
- Confusing, except for the ending