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Wonder Boys

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Wonder Boys

Starring: Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire
Director: Curtis Hanson
Rated: R
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: February 2000
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Frances McDormand, Robert Downey Jr., Katie Holmes, Richard Thomas, Rip Torn

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Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

The pressure's on Curtis Hanson directing his first picture after the highly acclaimed L.A. Confidential. Adapted by Steve Kloves from Michael Chabon's 1995 novel, the theme here revolves around a middle-aged author who is creatively paralyzed after having published a successful novel seven years ago. Although it is not explained in the movie, a 'wonder boy' is someone who has experienced great success early in life and then has to face the fear and insecurity of living up to himself. Michael Douglas plays the cynical, dissolute college professor who cannot finish the manuscript for his next book - which now numbers more than 2,500 single-spaced typewritten pages - as he spends a picaresque "Wordfest" weekend frantically juggling his newly pregnant mistress, a suicidal student, his visiting editor, the corpse of a dead dog, and a fur-trimmed jacket that once belonged to Marilyn Monroe. Frances McDormand is his romantic interest; she's the college chancellor who's married to the head of the English department. Tobey Maguire is a gifted but deeply troubled writing student who catches the eye of Robert Downey, as Douglas's flamboyant editor from New York. Katie Holmes is a seductive young student with a crush on Douglas, and Rip Torn is successful, self-satisfied pop-culture writer. Set in wintry western Pennsylvania - superbly photographed by Dante Spinotti - it's a screwball, character-driven story whose eclectic inhabitants are wacky, weird and whimsical. And the memorable soundtrack includes Bob Dylan's new song, "Things Have Changed." On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Wonder Boys is a sly, darkly humorous 7 - aimed at an intelligent, sophisticated audience.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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