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Overall Rating
4.22

Awesome53.38%
Worth A Look: 29.05%
Average: 6.76%
Pretty Bad: 7.43%
Total Crap: 3.38%

13 reviews, 70 user ratings


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Wonder Boys
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by Scott Weinberg

"Very smooth, very clever, and very good."
5 stars

Wonder Boys is one of those great comedies that just lets you watch people going through things. No formula, no preconceived ideas of who will do what, etc. We meet likable and odd characters and watch what happens for a bit. There's a solid message or two, the actors simply shine, and (for a few hours) the audience feels respected.

Wonder Boys manages to be both a wonderful character study and also a masterfully-directed ensemble piece. It's the kind of movie you may like when you first see it, yet it will improve after repeated viewings. With all the crap I usually watch, it is quite refreshing to just watch characters interact, converse, communicate, laugh, and basically do things that seem honest. While it's not a perfect movie, Wonder Boys gets my enthusiastic recommendation for it's sharp and intelligent screenplay and a truckload of great acting.

Grady is having a rough day. His wife left him in the morning, his girlfriend is pregnant (and married to his boss), he has a beautiful student who rents a room from him, his caffeinated editor shows up in town with a transvestite, and one of his students show up at a party with a loaded gun. As an audience, we're basically along for the ride for 48 hours or so.

All sounds pretty predictable and wacky, right? He screws the student, punches his boss in the face, the transvestite drops his pants, and Matthew Lillard shoots up the party, right? Nope. That's why it's such a good movie. The issues you think are going to be explored often are not, and the ones that are turn out more surprising, anyway. (Like who wants to see Michael Douglas on top of Katie Holmes, anyway?) There are several opportunities for the script to go in the wrong direction (a subplot involving a homosexual tryst, for example), yet it never does. When a writer creates a character, he strives to keep that person consistent. Every character in this movie stays consistent. There's simply not a false note to be found.

When a movie like Wonder Boys works in almost every capacity, most of the attention is paid to the actors. While I might argue that the script is the star of this movie, some of the performances are just as amazing. Add me to the list of people who thought Michael Douglas was a joy to watch. He's almost always good, but this is the first time he's looked like he was having fun since Romancing the Stone. (That's 16 years ago.) Even though Wonder Boys may be a memory come next year's Oscar nominations, don't be too shocked if he's mentioned.

Once again, Frances McDormand simply shines. Every character she plays seems to have some mischievous streak or something in the eyes. Katie Holmes actually won me over a little here, and I've never been a fan of hers. She's laid-back and smart, and her character was a tough one to keep from being a cliché. As always, Robert Downey Jr. is fun and ballsy. He takes a lot of risks as an actor. If you put all his personal bullshit aside and just look at his performances, wow. (Even in junk like Home for the Holidays and One Night Stand! Now that's talent.) But the standout for me was Tobey Maguire. Yeah, he's an unlikely type for a movie star, I guess. But after what he's showed in this one, Pleasantville and The Cider House Rules, I think he may be around for a while.

Since Wonder Boys is a movie that celebrates writers, it would probably seem critic-proof. Based on the reviews it's getting, I guess that's a safe assumption. It simply does what any good movie should: It gives you characters to like and tells a damn entertaining story.

No tit jokes. No pretense. No predictable outcomes or convenient plot contrivances. No aliens, body fluids, or explosions. I loved it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1857&reviewer=128
originally posted: 03/03/00 22:43:35
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User Comments

5/28/15 Anne Hoping it would get better, it didn't. 1 stars
7/01/08 The Main Ingredient Brilliant Michael Douglas!, always plays a good stoner, in my top 10 of all time, must see 5 stars
10/04/07 The Film Maker I love movies like this. Great story, character driven, great acting except for one or two. 4 stars
9/19/07 yuko downey jr. was excellent as usual!! 5 stars
6/06/07 fools♫gold Sometimes people can be oh so dense. A great list of Bob Dylan tracks. 5 stars
12/28/06 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
5/28/05 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
1/08/04 A F Pass it. 4 stars
12/23/03 tatum Inspiring, wonderful 5 stars
11/29/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) One of the most effective feel-good movies I can think of. Great Xmas movie. 5 stars
10/24/03 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
3/10/03 I didn't see this movie in the theater. I am very sorry. Matt Thiel 5 stars
12/29/02 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
11/09/02 Steve insomnia cure 1 stars
10/30/02 spacecowboy it is indeed VERY DAMN GOOD...:) 5 stars
9/25/02 y2mckay Need to see again before proper review, but Mike Douglas the shiznit as stoned English prof 5 stars
11/30/01 James Cole Awesome 5 stars
8/29/01 Gary Maguire, Downey Jnr. and Douglas are all fantastic in a wonderfully warm and funny film. 5 stars
8/10/01 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
7/14/01 Paul C. One of the most uncontrived comedies I've ever see, not to mention a great story. 5 stars
6/12/01 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
5/25/01 BrainPan What the crunk do you mean by "artsy?" 5 stars
5/23/01 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
4/17/01 Jesse Gets better with each viewing. A real gem. 5 stars
4/15/01 Jake Brilliant film with clever dialogue and writing. 5 stars
4/09/01 PatrickG. Some good dialogue, but just an average movie. 3 stars
3/16/01 The Bomb 69 a "real" movie, something I could relate too, Hollywood ending though 5 stars
1/08/01 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
11/25/00 TigerShark As dumb as 'Being John Malkovich'. Don't see it unless you like paying $7 for dogshit!! 1 stars
11/13/00 frankko great flick. the entire cast was super. 5 stars
10/31/00 Philm Phreak Haven't seen a better movie this year (except High Fidelity) 5 stars
10/27/00 Krista Clark Robert Downey Jr. deserves an Academy Award for this incredible performance! 5 stars
9/06/00 bornslippy Great witty comedy, a nice change from the crude shit teen comedies 5 stars
8/16/00 Drew Vogel Not great, but solid... this year, that's rare 4 stars
8/15/00 Pierce Lanson Douglas most surprisingly good, wonderful performances, funny, warm, loved it. 5 stars
8/09/00 matthew smith A superbly acted film 5 stars
7/27/00 Mr J M HARWOOD Really cleaver (not enough Katie Holmes though) 5 stars
4/11/00 kohawk If you didn't at least mildly enjoy this, well, you have shit for brains. Well acted. 4 stars
4/08/00 burton t. e. miller disturbing and unneccesary gay scene ruined the whole thing 2 stars
4/03/00 PJ I really Loved this movie, it was beautiful, original, and it inspires, I want to write. 5 stars
3/24/00 BILL What a disconnected mess of a life. Poorly written and even more poorly directed. 3 stars
3/23/00 Richie Wonder Boys was a boring piece of crap. Childish story. Seen it all before. 2 stars
3/22/00 maureen awesome! michael douglas in a good movie for a change!!! 5 stars
3/21/00 Terrance Phillip Very good flick, I saw that Mar@$@## movie and pretty much wanted to write hollywood off! 5 stars
3/19/00 Adam Top notch script, superb acting. 5 stars
3/19/00 Deckard Plot goes nowhere,yet still manages to fall apart over last half hour. 2 stars
3/17/00 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
3/10/00 Dirty Dave Capone Great movie! Very funny! 5 stars
3/06/00 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
3/03/00 Tim Krauss A must for anyone who likes quality movies and Bob Dylan music. 5 stars
3/02/00 Heather Enjoyable, funny movie, the sight of the dog in the trunk was worth the ticket price alone 4 stars
3/01/00 PhilmPhreak Great job by all!! 4 stars
3/01/00 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
2/29/00 Natasha I wanted more time with many of the characters 4 stars
2/27/00 "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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