Saturday, October 1, 2016

Wonder Boys

Movie Name: Wonder Boys
Year of Release: 2000
Director: Curtis Hanson
Stars: Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey Jr., Katie Holmes, Rip Torn, Jane Adams, Richard Thomas, Alan Tudyk, Philip Bosco, Kelly Bishop, Richard Knox
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
Watch it on Amazon

Director Curtis Hanson followed his highly acclaimed "LA Confidential" with another fantastic film, this time adapted from a novel by Michael Chabon. The film follows the life of Grady Tripp, a published author, whose first book was deemed brilliant and who has since settled into a teaching job while trying to get his second novel out. Grady has started a romantic relationship with the married chancellor of the college where he teaches, while simultaneously one of his brilliant students sparks an intellectual interest in him, while another student has a romantic interest in him. To make matters more interesting, his literary agent comes into town, wanting to see the state of his eternally delayed new novel, adding an extra edge to Grady's already stressful life.
Curtis Hanson was a director who managed to successfully portray and capture the complexities of life, deftly combining elements of drama and comedy. His films, even the more genre driven ones, always manage to give insight into whatever characters he presents on screen, and "Wonder Boys" is a perfect example of that. Using the excellent Michael Chabon book as a starting point, Hanson encapsulates the life of Grady into a perfectly rendered case of someone struggling to grow up, and finally accepting their limitations and responsibilities. It's a film that perfectly balances the angst of romantic relationships as a person grows older, with the humor that comes from almost surreal situations that occur in every day life. The cast is fantastic, with Michael Douglas, Frances McDormand, Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey Jr. all creating indelible characters. The cinematography from Dante Spinotti is luscious and beautiful, and the overall production team is nothing short from fantastic. An excellent film always worth revisiting.