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Overall Rating
4.22

Awesome53.38%
Worth A Look: 29.05%
Just Average: 6.76%
Pretty Crappy: 7.43%
Sucks: 3.38%

13 reviews, 70 user ratings


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Wonder Boys
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by Erik Childress

"Subtlety and Relationships Makes Everyone a Winner"
4 stars

Wonder Boys (*** ½) – Why do people have such a problem with Michael Douglas? Someone explain it to me, please. Gene Siskel used to call him the most underrated actor working in movies today. And I never quite understood that until recently when it seems the mere mention of one of his films causes nausea and sometimes vomiting. Is it because of his man vs. woman choices (Fatal Attraction, The War of the Roses, Basic Instinct, Disclosure)? Is it because of the way he plays a rich guy (Wall Street, The Game, A Perfect Murder) – the latter of which could also be in the man vs. woman category. Or is it just jealousy rearing its ugly head that he was able to nab Catherine Zeta-Jones? Well if that’s the reason, then turn in your critical credentials because you don’t even deserve to look at Wonder Boys, the most refreshing drink of water in the first two months of the year 2000.

Douglas pulls an entire 180 here playing a college professor who hasn’t been able to repeat his one great success – an award-winning book called The Arsonist’s Daughter. The story transpires over a writer’s festival on campus where we meet many members of the faculty, including the headmaster’s wife (a great performance by Frances McDormand) who is not only having an affair with Douglas, but truly loves him and continues to steer him to the place he needs to be. But that’s only one of the wonderful relationships in the film. The primary one is between Douglas and Tobey Maguire as a student with a dark, but quirky, streak who writes stories that none of the students like, but may just be the best writer in the school. Their relationship could have been just like every other student/teacher/mentor pairing we’ve seen in countless other films – but we’re never sure what direction it will take or if its for the better. What’s so terrific about Wonder Boys is the natural way it presents its comedy. There is nothing forced or contrived here, but humorous situations that are arrived at by decisions made during everyday life. It was also nice to see a film that treats the writer’s process with enough respect to show how it can evolve for better or for worse. There’s a wonderful scene where Douglas, Robert Downey Jr. and Maguire all make up a history for a man they just notice in a nightclub. Everyone gets to shine in this film and Downey’s latest terrific performance brings a sense of joy and sadness to one’s face, as we can only hope that he turns his misfortunes around and returns to the big screen where he belongs as one of our best, most consistent actors. Wonder Boys also keeps director Curtis Hanson on the right path. After this and his previous effort, L.A. Confidential (one of the top ten films of the 90s), Hanson seems content to put the past of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and The River Wild behind him and onto deeper, more meaningful projects.

The film Wonder Boys most closely resembles is Nobody’s Fool, which starred Paul Newman as a man amidst a town of quirky characters trying to get back a little of the life he let time steal. Michael Douglas is just as good here letting it all hang out in a character that is beat up and almost beaten period. It’s an early possibility for another Oscar nomination a year from now and maybe, just maybe, he’ll start getting the recognition he truly deserves.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1857&reviewer=198
originally posted: 02/28/00 13:02:03
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User Comments

5/27/15 Anne Hoping it would get better, it didn't. 1 stars
6/30/08 The Main Ingredient Brilliant Michael Douglas!, always plays a good stoner, in my top 10 of all time, must see 5 stars
10/03/07 The Film Maker I love movies like this. Great story, character driven, great acting except for one or two. 4 stars
9/18/07 yuko downey jr. was excellent as usual!! 5 stars
6/05/07 fools♫gold Sometimes people can be oh so dense. A great list of Bob Dylan tracks. 5 stars
12/27/06 Agent Sands I watch it every Christmastime. It has the ambiance of that festive, snowy holiday season. 5 stars
6/21/06 Sydney Finally: a gritty, unselfconscious story about writing 5 stars
8/17/05 ES Why is it that cinema now a days must have homo-erotica (token gay) to be considered good? 1 stars
7/30/05 Gabby Master Hell I liked it, not perfect but it has a good mood to it 4 stars
5/27/05 Indrid Cold Maybe I'm off base, but it seemed incredibly ponderous and uninteresting. 2 stars
11/11/04 andreea just loved it 5 stars
3/12/04 Monica Most realistic college movie ever! 5 stars
1/07/04 A F Pass it. 4 stars
12/22/03 tatum Inspiring, wonderful 5 stars
11/28/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) One of the most effective feel-good movies I can think of. Great Xmas movie. 5 stars
10/23/03 laurabetty Douglas impressed me! first time for everything! 5 stars
7/25/03 elizabeth parsadanian tobey maguire is just so so so so so cute 3 stars
3/09/03 I didn't see this movie in the theater. I am very sorry. Matt Thiel 5 stars
12/28/02 Jack Sommersby Simply stupendous! The best film of 2000. 5 stars
11/10/02 Daniel Magnificent cast (particularly Tobey McGuire), very off-beat kind of story. Enjoyable. 4 stars
11/08/02 Steve insomnia cure 1 stars
10/30/02 spacecowboy it is indeed VERY DAMN GOOD...:) 5 stars
9/24/02 y2mckay Need to see again before proper review, but Mike Douglas the shiznit as stoned English prof 5 stars
11/29/01 James Cole Awesome 5 stars
8/28/01 Gary Maguire, Downey Jnr. and Douglas are all fantastic in a wonderfully warm and funny film. 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk So good. To bad no one saw it. McGuire is great, so is Douglas. Beautiful soundtrack. 5 stars
7/30/01 Turd Ferguson I figured I could have this movie on while I did my laundry and cl 5 stars
7/13/01 Paul C. One of the most uncontrived comedies I've ever see, not to mention a great story. 5 stars
6/11/01 Gizzy The most pretentious, thoroughly UNentertaining piece of self-indulgent rubbish ever 1 stars
6/10/01 Phil M. Afficianado The Angry Jew has said it all. Bravo for a great film all around. 5 stars
5/24/01 BrainPan What the crunk do you mean by "artsy?" 5 stars
5/22/01 Monday Morning Understated & stellar, but why couldn't they have shot a cat instead of a dog? 4 stars
4/29/01 R.W. Welch Entertaining, could have been a hit if a little less artsy. 4 stars
4/16/01 Jesse Gets better with each viewing. A real gem. 5 stars
4/15/01 Jake Brilliant film with clever dialogue and writing. 5 stars
4/08/01 PatrickG. Some good dialogue, but just an average movie. 3 stars
3/15/01 The Bomb 69 a "real" movie, something I could relate too, Hollywood ending though 5 stars
1/07/01 A.K. great performances, excellent story. an overlooked film 5 stars
12/02/00 Gray Movie of the year. Great acting from Douglas & Downey Jr, but Tobey Maguire is the star. 5 stars
11/24/00 TigerShark As dumb as 'Being John Malkovich'. Don't see it unless you like paying $7 for dogshit!! 1 stars
11/12/00 frankko great flick. the entire cast was super. 5 stars
10/30/00 Philm Phreak Haven't seen a better movie this year (except High Fidelity) 5 stars
10/26/00 Krista Clark Robert Downey Jr. deserves an Academy Award for this incredible performance! 5 stars
9/05/00 bornslippy Great witty comedy, a nice change from the crude shit teen comedies 5 stars
8/15/00 Drew Vogel Not great, but solid... this year, that's rare 4 stars
8/15/00 Pierce Lanson Douglas most surprisingly good, wonderful performances, funny, warm, loved it. 5 stars
8/08/00 matthew smith A superbly acted film 5 stars
7/27/00 Mr J M HARWOOD Really cleaver (not enough Katie Holmes though) 5 stars
4/10/00 kohawk If you didn't at least mildly enjoy this, well, you have shit for brains. Well acted. 4 stars
4/07/00 burton t. e. miller disturbing and unneccesary gay scene ruined the whole thing 2 stars
4/03/00 PJ I really Loved this movie, it was beautiful, original, and it inspires, I want to write. 5 stars
3/23/00 BILL What a disconnected mess of a life. Poorly written and even more poorly directed. 3 stars
3/22/00 Richie Wonder Boys was a boring piece of crap. Childish story. Seen it all before. 2 stars
3/21/00 maureen awesome! michael douglas in a good movie for a change!!! 5 stars
3/20/00 Terrance Phillip Very good flick, I saw that Mar@$@## movie and pretty much wanted to write hollywood off! 5 stars
3/18/00 Adam Top notch script, superb acting. 5 stars
3/18/00 Deckard Plot goes nowhere,yet still manages to fall apart over last half hour. 2 stars
3/16/00 schmegs pretty kick ass 5 stars
3/14/00 Julia i'm gonna take a long lunch and go watch this one again tomorrow. 5 stars
3/12/00 Louis I really enjoyed this movie. 5 stars
3/09/00 Dirty Dave Capone Great movie! Very funny! 5 stars
3/05/00 dface ehhh... not too great, ok if you like pot smoking profs. 3 stars
3/03/00 f*r*o*s*t*y Love it, you gotta see it. 5 stars
3/02/00 Tim Krauss A must for anyone who likes quality movies and Bob Dylan music. 5 stars
3/01/00 Heather Enjoyable, funny movie, the sight of the dog in the trunk was worth the ticket price alone 4 stars
2/29/00 PhilmPhreak Great job by all!! 4 stars
2/29/00 lyngweni most boring 2 stars
2/29/00 Captain Highcrime Entertaining--not the best o' the year (yet), but damn good show all the same. 4 stars
2/28/00 Natasha I wanted more time with many of the characters 4 stars
2/26/00 "Persnickety "Jenn it was good, not what i was expecting but worth seeing 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Feb-2000 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Aug-2000 (M)




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