An English Professor tries to deal with his wife leaving him, the arrival of his editor who has been waiting for his book for seven years, and the various problems that his friends and associates involve him in.
Grady Tripp is a professor/writer living in Pittsburgh who is struggling with writer's block. Whilst doing this, he also manages to get the chancellor pregnant. In the meantime, he and a college student, James Leer are trying to find a rare jacket once owned by Marilyn Monroe, and a college girl, Hannah Green boarding with Grady has a bit of a crush on him.Written by
Dave Lean <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In between shots at the house in Beaver, Pennsylvania, Michael Douglas could be seen hitting golf balls into the Ohio River. See more »
Tripp is (not) wearing glasses when he talks to his in-laws. See more »
"The young girl sat perfectly still in the confessional listening to her father's boots scrape like chalk on the ancient steps of the church, then grow faint, then disappear altogether. She could sense the priest beyond the grate..." On that particular Friday afternoon, last February, I was reading a story to my Advanced Writers' Workshop by one James Leer, Junior Lit major and sole inhabitant of his own gloomy gulag.
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In the theatrical version Tobey Maguire mistakenly refers to Alan Ladd's death as a suicide. After complaints from Ladd's family, Paramount removed the offending line in all future releases of the film, including home video. VHS and DVD releases carry a disclaimer, shown before the feature, warning that the film has been edited for content. See more »
WONDER BOYS (2000) **** Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey Jr., Katie Holmes, Rip Torn, Richard Thomas, Jane Adams, Michael Cavadias, Philip Bosco.
Michael Douglas is not one of the best actors of comedy .until now. In the adaptation of Michael Chabon's excellent novel of has-beens, chemical imbibing and a 2 day journey of self-discovery, he emerges as if an old pro in one memorable turn as its antihero, Grady Tripp (great name!)
Tripp is - to make a funny here - having a bad trip in one disastrous day. It begins when his (unseen) wife leaves him. From there it only gets worse. Tripp is a tenured English professor at a Pittsburgh university and something of a has-been downward spiral loser (he once was praised as a `wonder boy' for his first novel of acclaim and has been 7 years down the road struggling to finish its behemoth (over 2000 pages) follow-up) who has many balls juggling in the air as a weekend of literary workshops awaits his presence: namely his affair with his boss's wife, the Chancellor, Sara Gaskell (Mc Dormand giving another patented flawless performance) who announces with perfect timing that she's pregnant. To make matters even worse, its at their cocktail party for a loquacious literary figurehead improbably known as `Q' (Torn, subdued avuncularity) and in tow are his ambisexual New York editor Terry Crabtree (the always welcome Downey) hounding him for a peek at his epic tome who has brought along a titaness of a transvestite (Cavadias) he met on the plane and Grady's two prized pupils, the warm, glowing (and obviously seductive) Hannah Green (the down right sexy baby fat sweet Holmes) and heir apparent, suicidally tormented chronic storyteller/liar James Leer (a star making turn by the incredible Maguire, showcasing his low-key subtle skills at full tilt). Both are perfect..
What ensues is a series of bad timing, unfortunate luck, a dead dog, mistaken identity, pill and alcohol binging (think a less venal `Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas'), secrets revealed, the pilfering of Marilyn Monroe's wedding coat (don't ask, trust me it works!) and gradually the understandment of a particularly Zen-like kwon : it doesn't matter what one thinks of another when it comes to being a creative, artistic genius.
Douglas is a revelation as a bonafide movie-star allowing the actor he's always had inside (the last time I can recall a `real' character he's done is the ticking human time bomb in `Falling Down') by allowing to deglam his persona of a slick, lady-killing cocksure swaggardly handsome devil and here allow himself to be absorbed by a lumpy, pot-smoking, hazy for the future shlump who discovers the truth lies within. And of course that little realization is by no means a slight since it is offered by the melancholic Maguire who exudes a spacey sadness when he's not busy polluting his body to cover his pain(s) or narrating his own assisted run to the men's room to recover (hilarious by the way). His James Leer is Sancho Panza to Grady's Don Quixote in a twisted sense. Downey has fun as usual as the straw that stirs the drink of debauchery and chicanery that occurs.
Filmmaker Steve Kloves (who was originally set to direct and is best known for his debut with the fabulous `The Fabulous Baker Boys') adapts the off-beat quirky novel excellently to the screen with some great dialogue and unique situations (i.e. how to make the bad joke of a dead dog a good running gag).
Director Curtis Hanson, better known for gritty noir influenced flicks like `Bad Influence' and the Oscar-winning `L.A. Confidential' plumbs the depths of humanity through humor and succeeds by making it a fun-filled ride into the inner sanctum of all artists: self-destruction is easy, self-acceptance isn't always.
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