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 <email@example.com>
The character of Grady Tripp was inspired by Chuck Kinder who was Michael Chabon's former professor at Pitt. See more »
In the beginning of the movie, Tripp mentions that James is a junior. At the end, the head of the English department says that he is a sophomore. 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 »
Narrative wise not great but a good character piece
Grady Tripp is a writing teacher and writer. His first novel caused a splash but that was seven years ago and he has had writer's block since. To make is life harder, his wife leaves him, his lover announces she is pregnant, his protégé goes off the rails (or claims to) and his editor turns up with his transvestite lover looking for a book.
I missed this at the cinema but had heard good things about it and the cast seemed to suggest a very good film. The plot summary is a little more than a summary of the various little happenings within the film as that is as close to a narrative flow as I could do. The plot here is not that good and is spread over characters who come and go like players in a sketch rather than people. What the film actually does well is a look at the character of Grady and the learning experience that these various little events bring him to.
While this is weakened by the lack of a strong, traditional plot it is not weakened to the point that it doesn't work - it would only have worked better with a better plot. As it is, it still manages to be quite bitter sweet and interesting enough to keep watching. I considered it a disadvantage that the sketch-like events were more comic than anything else when the central character had more of a touch of the tragic to him - these were not balanced very well and the comic took something away from the more tragic character, but it still worked reasonably well.
Douglas gave one of his best performances here - he is sensitive and understated and he plays it without glamour the whole way. The support cast are also all good, even if some of them have very little to really do in the grand scheme of things. Downey Jnr is in fine comic form but his actual character is more of a mystery. Maguire is a good actor but he plays his cards too close to his chest and the script isn't as interested in him as it suggests by the first half of the film, leading to the feeling that he has just been forgotten in the later stages. Holmes is cute but very sidelined and it is very much Douglas' film in line with the character-over-plot focus of the film.
Overall this is a rather more low-key film than the heavy cast list would suggest and it may prove a bit disappointing to some viewers as a result. As a little character piece though, this film is actually pretty good even if I felt that the overall narrative was very fragmented and didn't totally flow the way I would have hoped it would.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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