Wonder Boys (2000) / Drama-Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for language and drug content
Running Time: 107 min.
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Shawn Doyle, Elizabeth Mitchell, Andre Braugher
Director: Curtis Hanson
Screenplay: Steve Kloves (based on the novel by Michael Chabon)
Review published March 13, 2000
Director Curtis Hanson follows up his brilliant L.A. CONFIDENTIAL with another impressive outing. WONDER BOYS stars Michael Douglas as Grady Tripp, a college professor and one time successful writer with a severe case of writer's block. He's having an affair with the chancellor of his school, which results in her pregnancy, and leads to complications due to the fact that both are married, just not to each other. Most of the film deals with his relationship with one of his students, James Leer (Maguire), an oddball and socially inept aspiring writer who gets the both of them in world of trouble when he steals a jacket from the chancellor's husband that once belonged to Marilyn Monroe and then kills their beloved dog. Tripp tries his best to rectify the situation, but the more he tries to climb out of the hole, the deeper he seems to get back in it.
Based on the novel by Michael Chabon, WONDER BOYS is a delightfully whimsical story that scores high on both originality and humor value. Michael Douglas is terrific in perhaps his most unglamorous role to date, and the rest of the cast is perfectly suited to their respective roles. Hanson has no trouble keeping the tone of the offbeat humor consistent, and while the humor is mostly of the subtle variety, it's still one of the funniest comedies of the year. Perhaps the best aspect of WONDER BOYS comes from its unpredictability, with many loose ends unresolved intentionally for a more realistic and satisfying outcome. One of the best, and most overlooked, films to come out in 2000.
©2000 Vince Leo