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Wonder Boys

Starring: Michael Douglas
Director: Curtis Hanson
Genre: Comedy
Year: 2000
Rating: 4 / 5

Reviewed by Guest Scribe Jules

Somewhere in the middle of the wild ride which is the Wonder Boys, someone asks Professor Tripp (Michael Douglas) what the book he is writing is about. He replies that he does not know. The character - along with most of the audience- asks, "But how could you be writing a book and not know what it's about?" This leads Professor Tripp to respond, "I just couldn't stop."

This movie feels like that at times - like you're not sure what it's about and yet you don't want it to stop. From start to finish it manages to entertain, and it even causes some hearty laughter, even if it's not at all clear where the action is headed. At a certain point, the viewer must make the Zen-like decision to sit back, let go of outcomes, and enjoy, as Tripp experiences one of the wackier weekends in documented history.

The acting is both zany, and right on key. Without superb performances by all involved, it is impossible to imagine this movie being as successful or as funny. For Michael Douglas, Wonder Boys is quite a departure from his recent roles as debonair millionaire or a charming President. He plays the flaky college professor with considerable verve, and shows a comic presence not seen since Romancing the Stone. Toby Maguire is mesmerizing and hilarious as a talented and unique (both in the good and bad senses of the word) student of Tripp's. There are strong supporting performances by Frances McDormand and Robert Downey Jr., while Katie Holmes stretches to play a slightly older and more voluptuous version of her Dawson's Creek character. Even the lesser known members of the cast are a pleasant surprise, especially the waitress named Oola.

If I have neglected to describe much of the plot, it is only because I don't want to spoil a single moment of what transpires onscreen. So much of the movie depends on timing, and the element of surprise. Plus, I must confess that I'm not sure what it was all about. All I know is that I enjoyed every minute of it.

Cast:

Michael Douglas..........Grady Tripp
Tobey Maguire..........James Leer
Frances McDormand..........Sara Gaskell
Robert Downey, Jr..........Terry Crabtree
Katie Holmes..........Hannah Green

Certification: Rated R for violence.
Running Time: 112 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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[critics]