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Wonder Boys (2000)

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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.


Curtis Hanson


Michael Chabon (novel), Steve Kloves (screenplay)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 46 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Douglas ... Grady Tripp
Tobey Maguire ... James Leer
Frances McDormand ... Sara Gaskell
Robert Downey Jr. ... Terry Crabtree
Katie Holmes ... Hannah Green
Rip Torn ... Q
Richard Knox Richard Knox ... Vernon Hardapple
Jane Adams ... Oola
Michael Cavadias ... Miss Sloviak
Richard Thomas ... Walter Gaskell
Alan Tudyk ... Traxler
Philip Bosco ... Emily's Father
George Grizzard ... Fred Leer
Kelly Bishop ... Amanda Leer
Bill Velin Bill Velin ... Officer Pupcik


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 <davelean@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Undependable. Unpredictable. Unforgettable.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



USA | Germany | UK | Japan



Release Date:

25 February 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Wonder Boys See more »


Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,808,919, 27 February 2000, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$19,389,454, 28 January 2001

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,312,406, 7 December 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film features three Oscar Winners: Michael Douglas (Wall Street (1987)), Frances McDormand (Fargo (1996)), and the late Director Curtis Hanson (L.A.Confidential (1997)); and six Academy Award nominees including: Robert Downey, Jr. (Chaplin (1992)), Rip Torn (Cross Creek (1983)), Cinematographer Dante Spinotti (The Insider (1999), and L.A.Confidential (1997)), Writer Steve Kloves (The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)), Editor Dede Allen (Dog Day Afternoon (1975)), and Production Designer Jeannie Oppewall (L.A. Confidential (1997), and Pleasantville (1998)). See more »


Grady parks next to the fire hydrant and it wobbles when his door hits it. See more »


[first lines]
Grady Tripp: "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.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The video release appears to have been edited for language as well. Early in the film, when Michael Douglas is picking up his editor at the airport, he turns to him and says "you're fucked-up" but an overdubbing has him saying "you're high." Near the end of the film, when Robert Downey Jr. is chasing Vernon with his car, Vernon says "Motherfucker" but this was overdubbed to "man" for the video release. See more »


Referenced in Wonder Boys: A Look Between the Pages (2000) See more »


Old Man
Written & Performed by Neil Young
Courtesy of Reprise Records
by arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

Sublimely wonderful Douglas and Maguire
27 April 2004 | by george.schmidtSee all my reviews

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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