After a stunning direction with L.A. Confidential, director Curtis Hanson’s follow up could only be a disappointment –but who knew the disappointment would be so big.Wonder Boys follows Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas), a literary professor, and renowned one-time author. He’s writing his new novel, and has been doing so for the last seven years since his first book was published, and has already written 2600 pages (single space!) without being able to stop. The mundane story is an atypical one: a man suffering from a midlife crisis though he’s obviously past the mid in his life. An unraveling of bad events starts when his wife leaves him, his mistress (Frances McDormand), also the (married) chancellor of the university is pregnant with his kid, and his editor (Robert Downey Jr.) flies out only to wreak more havoc.
Tobey Maguire (The Ice Storm, Pleasantville, The Cider House Rules) stars as Tripp’s protégé, but his antics of histrionics have become very tiresome; Maguire never differentiates between laidback, mellow and lackadaisical characters, and where it was once recognizable, his impalpability now makes him annoying and suggests he lacks talent. Katie Holmes (Go) also shows up at inopportune times as a quasi-nympho whose stock character only has one revelatory scene (though her presence was not as annoying like Maguire).Final Verdict: C-.