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USA 2000
Directed by
Curtis Hanson
108 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Wonder Boys

Curtis Hanson’s follow-up to L.A. Confidential (1997) is a very different film but it shares with it the benefit of a strong script and seasoned cast, confident directing and the classy cinematography of Dante Spinotti.

Michael Douglas, long a specialist in playing middle class professionals whose lives are going awry, plays Professor Tripp, a dope-smoking academic and author with writer's block and a marriage gone aground. It has been seven years since his critically-acclaimed novel was published and his editor, Terry Crabtree (Robert Downey Jr.) is in town for WordFest, a literary event for writers and publishers, and wanting to see the long-waited follow-up.  To add to Tripp’s troubles he finds out that the college's Chancellor (Frances McDormand) is pregnant with his child. When he takes one of his students, James Leer (Tobey Maguire), a talented outsider under his wing things start to go completely haywire.

Douglas is in his element as Grady Tripp, a man who has lost his way whilst Robert Downey Jnr. and Frances McDormand are appealing support characters as Tripp watches his life come unstuck with a certain degree of fatalistic bemusement. The ever-impassive Tobey Maguire is effective as Tripp's protégé and last repository of hope whilst Katie Holmes has a small role as a student with a crush on the professor.

Adapted by writer Steve Kloves Wonder Boys, which was based on a novel of the same name, is a dryly witty film, albeit sometimes a little too cute for its own good, particularly where Downey is concerned, that manages to consistently entertain.

FYI: Bob Dylan's song 'Things Have Changed' which won an Oscar.




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