Wonder Boys

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"Undependable. Unpredictable. Unforgettable."
  • R
  • 2000
  • 1 hr 51 min
  • 7.2  (66,157)
  • 74

Wonder Boys is a 2000 comedy-drama film directed by Curtis Hanson and based on the novel of the same name by Michael Chabon. The movie stars Michael Douglas as Grady Tripp, a novelist and English professor at a small college in Pittsburgh. Tobey Maguire plays James Leer, one of Grady's students, and Frances McDormand is Sara Gaskell, Grady's editor and lover.

Grady Tripp is struggling to finish his epic novel, which has been in progress for over seven years. In addition to his writing block, he is dealing with an estranged wife, a demanding editor, and a pregnant mistress. Grady's life is turned upside down when James Leer, a troubled student, asks for his mentor's help to rescue his pet boa constrictor.

As Grady tries to navigate the challenges of his own life, he becomes embroiled in James Leer's problems. James' obsession with classic Hollywood films has stunted his emotional growth, and he appears to have a tenuous grip on reality. Grady must juggle his own problems with those of the troubled young man, whose aggressive behavior causes concern on campus.

Things come to a head when James produces a startling piece of writing that reveals his darker side. Grady must decide whether to intervene and try to help James, or turn him over to the authorities. His decision will have profound consequences for both men.

Along the way, Grady must also contend with the excitable and unpredictable English department chairman, played by Richard Thomas. Also, he tries to reconnect with his estranged wife (played by Jean Smart) and avoid the obsessive attentions of a local bookie (played by Robert Downey Jr.).

One of the most engaging aspects of Wonder Boys is its exploration of the creative process. Grady is a writer, but he is also an English professor. As such, he is fascinated by language and the power of words. He tries to impart this love of language to his students by getting them to write from personal experience, and to find their own voices.

The film is also a character study, exploring the quirks and eccentricities of the people who inhabit Grady's world. There is a touching subplot involving Sara Gaskell's desire for motherhood, which is complicated by her affair with Grady. This storyline is handled with sensitivity and grace by the writer and director.

Wonder Boys is not a perfect movie. It can be meandering at times, and some of its subplots come across as unfocused or underdeveloped. However, the performances are uniformly excellent. Michael Douglas is at his charismatic best as Grady, conveying both his charm and his flaws. Tobey Maguire gives a nuanced portrayal of a disturbed young man, and Frances McDormand is typically great as the pragmatic editor who is also a vulnerable woman.

Overall, Wonder Boys is an enjoyable and thought-provoking film that explores the complexities of creativity and the human condition. It features terrific acting, evocative cinematography, and a superb soundtrack featuring the music of Bob Dylan. It also leaves the viewer with plenty to ponder long after the credits have rolled.

Wonder Boys is a 2000 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 51 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2 and a MetaScore of 74.

Wonder Boys
Where to Watch Wonder Boys
Wonder Boys is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Wonder Boys for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 51 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (66,157)
  • Metascore