The film was originally released in February of 2000 to almost universal praise (especially for the performance of Michael Douglas) but with very little fanfare. Paramount, the film's distributor, decided to re-release the film that November with a different marketing campaign that highlighted its strong supporting cast, and hopes that it would garner some Oscar nominations, despite Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Friedman's acknowledgment that no studio had ever successfully re-released a picture that initially flopped.
35 of 37 found this interesting Interesting? |
Jump to: Spoilers (5)
The list of famous suicides is taken name-for-name from a list in Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon II," including the notorious Alan Ladd reference.
31 of 31 found this interesting Interesting? |
In the theatrical version James Leer (Tobey Maguire) included Alan Ladd's death in his list of celebrity suicides. After complaints from Ladd's family, Paramount removed the offending line in all future releases of the film, including home video. Because of this, VHS and DVD releases carry a disclaimer, shown before the feature, warning that the film has been edited for content.
46 of 47 found this interesting Interesting? |
Filmed in sequence.
42 of 43 found this interesting Interesting? |
Curtis Hanson was a longtime fan of Bob Dylan, and personally approached the singer about writing a song for his movie adaptation. Dylan complied with "Things Have Changed", which went on to win him an Academy Award.
26 of 26 found this interesting Interesting? |
All key scenes feature either one of the many actual bridges of Pittsburgh or a depiction (painting, photo, billboard, et cetera) of a bridge in the background. In the DVD extras, director Curtis Hanson says this is meant to represent the fact that so many of the film's characters are at a point in their lives at which they have to make pivotal decisions about which way to go from then on.
35 of 36 found this interesting Interesting? |
The combination to the locked closet with the Monroe jacket is 5641. Fifty-six games is the record number of consecutive games that Joe Dimaggio recorded a hit, and forty-one is the year in which he accomplished it.
29 of 30 found this interesting Interesting? |
The first sentence of the manuscript that Grady Tripp pulls from James Lear's knapsack in the auditorium is actually the opening of the novel "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" by Michael Chabon.
17 of 17 found this interesting Interesting? |
The term "Wonder Boys," a derivative of the German "wunderkind," refers to someone who has greatly succeeded in their profession or art at an early age. In the movie, Grady applies the term "Wonder Boy" to James specifically. During the DVD extras, Curtis Hanson also applies it to Grady, though not in an entirely flattering way, since in Grady's case, the term refers to his early literary promise on which he has failed to deliver. In Michael Chabon's novel "Wonder Boys" (upon which this movie is based), the term also doubles as the title of Grady's giant unfinished manuscript, and "Wonder" is the last name of the brothers who are the main characters in that book.
22 of 23 found this interesting Interesting? |
James Leer's description of heaven as a greenhouse, is a reference to the houses in Zardoz (1974), which features a Utopian society who wore white, and lived in crystal houses, or possibly Made in Heaven (1987), which has the same interesting set design along with scenes in Heaven, which Zardoz does not have.
12 of 12 found this interesting Interesting? |
Many of the film's scenes were filmed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
17 of 18 found this interesting Interesting? |
At the party, James talks about George Sanders' suicide. Later, George Sanders is on the television in a scene for The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945).
22 of 24 found this interesting Interesting? |
Books on James Leer's desk include Albert Camus's "The Plague," Truman Capote's "Answered Prayers," and Kenneth Anger's infamous "Hollywood Babylon."
16 of 17 found this interesting Interesting? |
James Ellroy, author of the novel, "L.A. Confidential" (Curtis Hanson's previous film), is an extra at the party in the house of the head of the English Department.
22 of 25 found this interesting Interesting? |
The exterior of the sports shop is actually a local bowling alley. The same bowling alley that appears in the beginning of the film Kingpin (1996).
13 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? |
In 1998, the white-mink-trimmed suit that Marilyn Monroe wore in 1954, to marry Joe DiMaggio, was auctioned at Sotheby's New York, and was sold over the phone to an unnamed private American collector for 33,350 dollars. Before the auction, the suit's value was placed at twenty thousand dollars.
19 of 22 found this interesting Interesting? |
One of the reasons why many reckoned why the film failed to find an audience was because of a very lackluster marketing campaign. The original poster for the film was a close-up of Michael Douglas as Grady Tripp looking very disheveled which the L.A. Times said "makes him look like Elmer Fudd".
11 of 12 found this interesting Interesting? |
Q says writing is like swimming across a vast body of water expecting help on the other side, which is similar to something Samuel Johnson said about writing his dictionary.
8 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? |
Bearing in mind the film's interest in Marilyn Monroe, the character of Miss Antonia Sloviak, a tuba-playing transvestite, may be a nod to Monroe's film Some Like It Hot (1959), in which two men disguise themselves as women, and pose as members of an all-female band. (One of the men was played by Tony Curtis, which may have been the inspiration for Antonia's real name Tony.)
24 of 33 found this interesting Interesting? |
In between shots at the house in Beaver, Pennsylvania, Michael Douglas could be seen hitting golf balls into the Ohio River.
10 of 12 found this interesting Interesting? |
There are notes on James Joyce's "Ulysses" on the lecture room's chalkboard.
7 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? |
James mentions his parents live in the town of Carvel. Carvel is the name of the fictional town where Andy Hardy and his family lived in the series of Andy Hardy films from the 1930s and 1940s. While James is watching television at Emily's house, he stops for a minute on Babes in Arms (1939), which (though not an Andy Hardy film) stars Mickey Rooney, who played Andy Hardy in sixteen movies, and Judy Garland, who appeared with Rooney in many of them.
11 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? |
The character of Grady Tripp was inspired by Chuck Kinder who was Michael Chabon's former professor at Pitt.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? |
Back-to-back films in which production designer Jeannine Oppewall was involved in a film starring Tobey Maguire. The other was Pleasantville (1998), while this film was in pre-production, where she was nominated for an Oscar for the second consecutive year in a row after her work on L.A. Confidential (1997), which was also directed by Curtis Hanson.
8 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? |
Michael Chabon, the film's author, would go on to be hired to write the Spider-Man 2 (2004) screenplay and featured Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man and Peter Parker, who also co-starred in this film.
11 of 15 found this interesting Interesting? |
The dog is named after Edgar Allan Poe.
7 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? |
When James names some of the movie suicides, he mentions Carole Landis taking pills, only he forgot when. Carole Landis took her own life on July 5, 1948, in the Pacific Palisades in California.
10 of 15 found this interesting Interesting? |
Tobey Maguire and Katie Holmes appeared in The The Ice Storm (1997). Both movies have a classroom scene, where they are discussing literature.
11 of 18 found this interesting Interesting? |
When Grady returns to his house to find Terry (Robert Downey, Jr.) throwing a party, the song playing as he enters the house is "Waiting for the Miracle" by Leonard Cohen. This same song plays over the opening credits of Natural Born Killers (1994), also featuring Downey.
11 of 20 found this interesting Interesting? |
Robert Downey, Jr. and Tobey Maguire would go on to play the roles of Iron Man and Spider-Man, respectively. Downey later starred as Iron Man alongside Tom Holland as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), and Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
11 of 20 found this interesting Interesting? |
7 of 12 found this interesting Interesting? |
Composer Jerry Goldsmith was approached and slated to write the score's musical score, but scheduling conflicts with The 13th Warrior (1999), The Mummy (1999), and Reindeer Games (2000) did not let him reunite with Curtis Hanson, with whom he worked on The River Wild (1994) and L.A. Confidential (1997), in which he also received an Oscar nomination for best original score.
4 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? |
When James lists the actors who took their own lives, Everett Sloane was the only one to get a compliment.
4 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? |
Rob McElhenney had a small role as Hannah Green's love interest, but his scenes were cut from the finished film.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? |
Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) drives a large maroon 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 Convertible. Hannah Green (Katie Holmes) has a tiny but rough green 1980 Renault LeCar (American market Renault 5). Sara Gaskell (Frances McDormand) owns a stylish white 1968 Citroën DS 21 (that varies between EURO specs and US specs in different scenes).
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? |
Terry's transvestite lover is nicknamed "Tony". Robert Downey, Jr. would go on to great success playing Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man (2008) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
6 of 48 found this interesting Interesting? |
In the novel, the Gaskells' dog is named Doctor Dee and not Poe, as it is in the film.
Rip Torn and Alan Tudyk were both in the movie Dodgeball with Vince Vaughn.
0 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? |
Although in the film, Grady allows Oola to keep the jacket, in the Michael Chabon novel upon which this movie is based, Grady returns it to Walter, and then when Grady and Sara get married, she wears the jacket (just as Marilyn Monroe did for her marriage to Joe DiMaggio).
22 of 22 found this interesting Interesting? |
Robert Downey Jr. and Tobey Maguire play lovers in this film. They also play gay lovers that are medieval priests in one of the fake trailers in the opening of the movie Tropic Thunder (2008). The fake movie is titled Satan's Alley.
9 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? |
Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey, Jr. play lovers in this film. Both of them would later play lead Marvel superheros in Spider-Man (2002) and Iron Man (2008), respectively. Michael Douglas went on to appear in another Marvel film: Ant-Man (2015). Maguire had previously worked with Ant-Man himself, Paul Rudd, in The Cider House Rules (1999). Maguire & Downey also portrayed actors portraying lovers in a spoof of Academy Award winning period dramas featuring a "forbidden" or dangerous romance, in Tropic Thunder (2008).
23 of 47 found this interesting Interesting? |
In the film, Grady's wife Emily is only seen briefly in a photograph (the photo is of actress Elisabeth Granli, who is Caucasian). In the novel, Grady's wife is Korean and was adopted as a child by the Warshaws, along with her sisters. In the book, they appear in a subplot involving a seder (a religious service and dinner celebrated for the Jewish holiday of Passover) during the weekend of Word Fest. There is no mention of Emily having sisters in the film.
During the finale where James Leer gets a standing ovation and bows, Grady yells "Take a bow, James!" In the novel, it is actually Hannah Green who yells out this line.