I first saw Wonder Boys my senior year of high school; I hadn’t realized that movies were my future yet, I just thought they were an amazing way to pass time and the video store was a great way to earn my first pay check. Yet, when I saw Wonder Boys it was the first film that really affected me on an artistic level. The film is a rich story full of flawed characters that was somehow the most exaggerated and most real film I had ever seen.
Grady Tripp teaches graduate students how to write the next great American novel; he’s qualified for his because eight years ago he wrote the great American novel…and he hasn’t finished a novel since. Grady doesn’t know what to do to get out of his funk and he finally has to confront it in one weekend when His university is having it’s writers gala, his editor Crabtree is flying in to check on his novel, his wife leaves him, his girlfriend tells him she’s pregnant and two of his students test his limits. Finally, the past eight years come flying into Grady’s present and he has to decide for his life and his novel – where does it go?
The saddest thing about Wonder Boys is not the sorted tales of Grady Tripp, but the serious lack of Oscar attention it received. This film should have garnered nominations for most of the actors, Curtis Hanson and basically the main awards; instead, the film was only nominated for editing, adapted screenplay and won the Oscar for best original song. This film was one of the best of 2000, and though the critics loved it the film went wholly unrewarded.
I have to say that the most spectacular aspect of Wonder Boys has got to be the writing. If you want to see a movie that has a brilliant yet subtlety intricate plot and dialogue that will make you laugh at the witty awkwardness of the characters Wonder Boys is the movie for you. This film is a unique slice of life and every character and situation, twist, and turn serves to move the characters further down their character arch into the plots stunning conclusion. This movie is a must-see for any perspective director or writer, as it can be studied as a nearly perfect film.
Director: Curtis Hanson
Writer: Steve Kloves
Grady Tripp: Michael Douglas
James Leer: Tobey Maguire
Sara Gaskell: Frances McDormand
Terry Crabtree: Robert Downey Jr.
Hannah Green: Katie Holmes
Vernon Hardapple: Why did you keep writing this book if you didn't even know what it was about?
Grady Tripp: I couldn't stop.