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Encyclopedia > Wonder Boys (film)
Wonder Boys

Wonder Boys film poster
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Produced by Curtis Hanson
Scott Rudin
Written by Novel:
Michael Chabon
Screenplay:
Steven Kloves
Starring Michael Douglas
Tobey Maguire
Frances McDormand
Robert Downey, Jr.
Katie Holmes
Rip Torn
Editing by Dede Allen
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (USA)
Universal Studios (UK)
Warner Bros. (France)
Release date(s) February 22, 2000
Running time 111 min.
Language English
Budget $35,000,000 (est.)
IMDb profile

Wonder Boys is a 2000 film adaptation of the Michael Chabon novel of the same name. It stars Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Katie Holmes and Robert Downey Jr. Film critic Roger Ebert described it as "the most accurate movie about campus life that I can remember." Image File history File links Wonder_Boys_film. ... Curtis Lee Hanson (born 24 March 1945) is a film director from in Reno, Nevada, whose movies include: Losin It (1983) Bad Influence (1990) The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992) The River Wild (1994) L.A. Confidential (1997) Wonder Boys (2000) 8 Mile (2002) In Her Shoes (2005) Lucky... Curtis Lee Hanson (born 24 March 1945) is a film director from in Reno, Nevada, whose movies include: Losin It (1983) Bad Influence (1990) The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992) The River Wild (1994) L.A. Confidential (1997) Wonder Boys (2000) 8 Mile (2002) In Her Shoes (2005) Lucky... Scott Rudin (born July 14, 1958) is an American motion picture producer known not only for his award-winning films, but also for his legendary temper. ... Michael Chabon (born May 24, 1963) is an American author best known for his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. ... Steven Kloves (born 1960) is an accomplished screenwriter and is most renowned for his adaptations of novels, especially for the Harry Potter film series. ... Douglas at the Cinedom Movie Theater in Cologne, Germany, January, 1997 For other people bearing this name, see Michael Douglas (disambiguation). ... Tobias Vincent Maguire (born 27 June 1975) is an American actor best known for his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the Spider-Man film series. ... Frances McDormand (born June 23, 1957) is an Academy Award-winning American film, stage, and television actress, best known for her role as Marge Gunderson in Fargo. ... Robert Downey Jr. ... Kate Noelle Katie Holmes (born December 18, 1978) is an American actress who first achieved fame for her role as Joey Potter on The WB teen drama Dawsons Creek from 1998 to 2003. ... Rip Torn as Chief Zed in the film Men in Black. ... Dede Allen (born Dorothea Carothers Allen, 3 December, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American film editor. ... Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American motion picture production and distribution company, based in Hollywood, California. ... This article is about the major American media conglomerate. ... Warner Bros. ... February 22 is the 53rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Michael Chabon (born May 24, 1963) is an American author best known for his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. ... Wonder Boys is a 2000 motion picture starring Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Katie Holmes, and Robert Downey Jr. ... Douglas at the Cinedom Movie Theater in Cologne, Germany, January, 1997 For other people bearing this name, see Michael Douglas (disambiguation). ... Tobias Vincent Maguire (born 27 June 1975) is an American actor best known for his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the Spider-Man film series. ... Frances McDormand (born June 23, 1957) is an Academy Award-winning American film, stage, and television actress, best known for her role as Marge Gunderson in Fargo. ... Kate Noelle Katie Holmes (born December 18, 1978) is an American actress who first achieved fame for her role as Joey Potter on The WB teen drama Dawsons Creek from 1998 to 2003. ... Robert John Downey Jr. ... Russ Meyer (left) and Roger Ebert, (1970) Roger Joseph Ebert (June 18, 1942 - ) is an Emmy Award-nominated American television personality, author, and film critic who began writing for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. ...


Directed by Curtis Hanson, Wonder Boys was filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, including locations at Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham College, and Shady Side Academy. Other Pennsylvania locations included Beaver, Rochester and Rostraver Township. Released February 22, 2000, the film reunited Holmes and Maguire, who had appeared together three years earlier in The Ice Storm. After Wonder Boys failed at the box office, there was a second attempt to find an audience with a new marketing campaign and a November 8, 2000, re-release, which was also a financial disappointment. Curtis Lee Hanson (born 24 March 1945) is a film director from in Reno, Nevada, whose movies include: Losin It (1983) Bad Influence (1990) The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992) The River Wild (1994) L.A. Confidential (1997) Wonder Boys (2000) 8 Mile (2002) In Her Shoes (2005) Lucky... Nickname: Steel City, Iron City, City of Champions, City of Bridges, City of Colleges, P-Burgh, The Burgh Motto: Benigno Numine Location in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Coordinates: Country United States State Pennsylvania County Allegheny County Founded 1758 Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (D) Area    - City 151. ... Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. ... Chatham College is a small (1,200 undergraduate and graduate students) liberal arts college located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvanias neighborhood Squirrel Hill . ... Shady Side Academy is an independent school in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. ... Beaver is a borough located in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. ... Rochester is a borough in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. ... Rostraver Township is a township located in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. ... February 22 is the 53rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Ice Storm is a novel by Rick Moody published in 1994 and subsequently adapted as an acclaimed film directed by Ang Lee. ... November 8 is the 312th day of the year (313th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 53 days remaining. ...

Contents

Story

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) is a novelist who teaches creative writing at an unnamed Pittsburgh university. He is having an affair with the university chancellor, Sara Gaskell (Frances McDormand), whose husband Walter is the chairman of the English department, and thus Grady's boss. Grady's third wife, Emily, has just left him, and he has failed to repeat the success of his first novel, published years earlier. He continues to labor on a second novel, but the more he tries to finish it the less able he finds himself to invent a satisfactory ending - the book runs to several thousand pages and is still far from finished. He spends his free time smoking marijuana and self-medicating with codeine. Douglas at the Cinedom Movie Theater in Cologne, Germany, January, 1997 For other people bearing this name, see Michael Douglas (disambiguation). ... Nickname: Steel City, Iron City, City of Champions, City of Bridges, City of Colleges, P-Burgh, The Burgh Motto: Benigno Numine Location in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Coordinates: Country United States State Pennsylvania County Allegheny County Founded 1758 Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (D) Area    - City 151. ... Frances McDormand (born June 23, 1957) is an Academy Award-winning American film, stage, and television actress, best known for her role as Marge Gunderson in Fargo. ... A Cannabis sativa plant The drug cannabis, also called marijuana, is produced from parts of the cannabis plant, primarily the cured flowers and gathered trichomes of the female plant. ... Codeine (INN) or methylmorphine is an opiate used for its analgesic, antitussive and antidiarrheal properties. ...

James Leer and Grady Tripp
James Leer and Grady Tripp

His students include James Leer (Tobey Maguire) and Hannah Green (Katie Holmes). Hannah and James are friends and both very good writers. Hannah, who rents a room in Tripp's large house, is attracted to Tripp, but he does not reciprocate. James is enigmatic, quiet, dark and enjoys writing fiction more than he first lets on. Tobias Vincent Maguire (born 27 June 1975) is an American actor best known for his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the Spider-Man film series. ... Kate Noelle Katie Holmes (born December 18, 1978) is an American actress who first achieved fame for her role as Joey Potter on The WB teen drama Dawsons Creek from 1998 to 2003. ... Fiction (from the Latin fingere, to form, create) is storytelling of imagined events and stands in contrast to non-fiction, which makes factual claims about reality. ...


During a party at the Gaskells' house, Sara reveals to Grady that she is pregnant with his child. Grady finds James standing outside holding what he claims to be a replica gun, won by his mother at a fairground during her schooldays. However, the gun turns out to be very real, as James shoots the Gaskells' dog when he finds it attacking Grady. James also steals a very valuable piece of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia from the house. Grady is unable to tell Sara of this incident as she is pressuring him to choose between her and Emily, so Grady is forced to keep the dead dog in his car for most of the weekend, and also to allow James to follow him around, fearing that he may be depressed or even suicidal. Gradually he realises that much what James tells him is untrue, and designed to elicit Grady's sympathy and so that he can hang out with Grady. Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson on July 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962), was a Golden Globe Award-winning American actress, singer, model and pop icon. ...

Terry Crabtree
Terry Crabtree

Meanwhile, Grady's editor, Terry Crabtree (Robert Downey Jr.), has flown into town on the pretense of attending the university's annual WordFest, a literary event for aspiring authors. In reality, Crabtree is there to see if Tripp has written anything worth publishing, as both men's careers depend on Grady's book. Terry arrives with a transvestite whom he met on the flight, called Antonia Sloviak (Michael Cavadias). The pair apparently become intimate in a bedroom at the Gaskells' party, but immediately afterwards Terry meets, and becomes infatuated with, James Leer, and Miss Sloviak is unceremoniously sent home. Terry wants to publish what James writes, and the two spend a curious night together in one of Grady's spare rooms. Robert John Downey Jr. ...


Tired and confused, Grady phones Walter Gaskell (Richard Thomas) and reveals to him that he is in love with Walter's wife. Meanwhile, Walter has also made the connection between the disappearance of Marilyn Monroe's jacket and James Leer, and the following morning a policeman arrives to arrest James and demand the jacket back. The jacket is in Grady's car, given to him by a friend as payment for a loan. Over the weekend Grady has come to suspect that the car was stolen, as he has been repeatedly accosted by a man claiming to be its real owner. He eventually tracks the car down, but in a dispute over its ownership the majority of his manuscript blows out of the car and is lost. The car's owner gives him a ride to the university, with his wife, Oola, in the passenger seat, wearing the stolen jacket. Remembering James Leer's distress at how lonely the jacket looked in its own special closet, Grady tells her. Grady tells Oola the story behnd the jacket and allows her to leave with it. Terry convinces Walter not to press charges by agreeing to publish his book about what he calls "a critical exploration of the union of Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe and its function in American mythopoetics, titled The Last American Marriage". Disambiguation: for other people of the same name, see Richard Thomas. ...


The movie ends with Grady recounting the eventual fate of the main characters - Hannah graduates and becomes a magazine editor, James drops out and moves to New York with Crabtree to rework his novel for publication, and Crabtree himself "goes right on being Crabtree." Grady finishes typing his new novel (now using a computer rather than a typewriter), then watches Sara and their child in the garden together for a moment, before turning back to the computer and clicking "Save."


Re-Release

Original theatrical poster
Original theatrical poster

Many critics blamed Paramount's initial ad campaign for the film failing to find a mainstream audience. The Wall Street Journals Joe Morgenstern praised Douglas' work in the movie, but criticized the movie poster: "a raffishly eccentric role, and he's never been so appealing. (Don't be put off by the movie's cryptic poster, which makes him look like Michael J. Pollard.)" The Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan also slammed the poster: "The film's ad poster brings Elmer Fudd to mind." The Wall Street Journal is an influential international daily newspaper published in New York City, New York with an average daily circulation of 1,800,607 (2002). ... Michael J. Pollard (born Michael J. Pollack, May 30, 1939 in Passaic, New Jersey) is an actor. ... The Los Angeles Times (also known as the LA Times) is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California and distributed throughout the Western United States. ... The fictional cartoon character Elmer J. Fudd, now one of the most famous Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies characters, also has one of the more convoluted and disputed origins in the Warner Brothers cartoon pantheon (second only to Bugs Bunny himself). ...


Amy Taubin interviewed Hanson for the Village Voice and he said, "The very things that made Michael and I want to do the movie so badly were the reasons it was so tricky to market. Since films go out on so many screens at once, there's a need for instant appeal. But Wonder Boys isn't easily reducible to a single image or a catchy ad line." Hanson felt that the studio played it safe with the original ad campaign featured a headshot of Douglas. The posters and the trailer for the re-release highlighted the ensemble cast.


Soundtrack

The soundtrack features several songs by Bob Dylan, including one new composition, "Things Have Changed"; Hanson also created a music video for "Things Have Changed," filming new footage of Bob Dylan on the film's various locations and editing it with footage used in Wonder Boys as if Dylan were actually in the film. The song eventually won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for "best original song." Tim Hardin's "Reason To Believe" and Neil Young's "Old Man" and other vintage recordings are featured in the film. Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941), is an American singer-songwriter, author, musician, and poet who has been a major figure in popular music for five decades. ... The Golden Globe Awards are American awards for motion pictures and television programs, given out each year during a formal dinner. ... Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are the most prominent and most watched film awards ceremony in the world. ... Neil Percival Young[1] OM (born November 12, 1945, Toronto, Ontario) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and film director. ...


Reaction

Roger Ebert a film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times praised Wonder Boys as "the most accurate movie about campus life that I can remember. It is accurate, not because it captures intellectual debate or campus politics, but because it knows two things: (1) Students come and go, but the faculty actually lives there, and (2) many faculty members stay stuck in graduate-student mode for decades."[1] Emanuel Levy of Variety said that Russ Meyer (left) and Roger Ebert, (1970) Roger Joseph Ebert (June 18, 1942 - ) is an Emmy Award-nominated American television personality, author, and film critic who began writing for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. ... The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago. ... Variety is a daily magazine for the entertainment industry. ...

"The movie's frivolous touches and eccentric details emphasize its dry, measured wit and the power of comedy to underscore serious ideas. Massively inventive, "Wonder Boys" is spiked with fresh, perverse humor that flows naturally from the straight-faced playing."[2]

A.O. Scott from The New York Times wrote, The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City by Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. ...

"What occupies the screen is a well-intentioned muddle. The problem with "Wonder Boys" is not that it's a bad movie, though if it had risked becoming one it might have been a lot more. The problem is that everyone involved seems to have agreed that it was a great idea for a movie and pretty much left it at that."[3]

Looking back in his Salon.com review, critic Andrew O'Hehir felt that Hanson,

"and cinematographer Dante Spinotti capture both Pittsburgh (one of the most serendipitously beautiful American cities) and the netherworld of boho academia with brilliant precision. If you went to a liberal-arts college anywhere in the United States, then the way Grady's ramshackle house looks in the wake of Crabs' enormous all-night party should conjure up vivid sense-memories."[4]

Wonder Boys holds an 83 percent "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.5 rating at the Internet Movie Database with 20,063 votes, which is above average. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information about motion pictures, actors, movie stars, TV shows, TV stars, production crew personnel, movie pictures, cast, crew as well as video games. ...


Awards

Bob Dylan won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Things Have Changed" in 2001. In addition, the film was nominated for Best Editing and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published. Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are the most prominent and most watched film awards ceremony in the world. ...


Dylan also won Best Original Song at the 2001 Golden Globe Awards and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. The Golden Globe Awards are American awards for motion pictures and television programs, given out each year during a formal dinner. ...


Michael Douglas and Frances McDormand won a Los Angeles Film Critics Association award in 2000 for Wonder Boys in categories Best Actor (Douglas) and Best Supporting Actress (McDormand). The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) was founded in 1975. ...


Box office

In its opening weekend, the film grossed a total of $5,808,919 in 1,253 theaters. As of November 29, 2006, the film has grossed a total of $33,426,588 worldwide.[5] November 29 is the 333rd (in leap years the 334th) day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ...


Trivia

  • Tobey Maguire's character James Leer is working on a long story. From the text shown on the first page, it is seen to be a copy of Michael Chabon's first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. In the movie it is titled The Love Parade.
  • The movie deviates from the novel several times. In the novel, for example, when Grady and James make the trip to Emily's home, she and her whole family are there. Grady has a deep conversation with Emily's father out in his workshed before they return inside to a traditional Jewish holiday meal. Emily learns of Grady's affair from her sister Deborah, and throws him out of the house. In the movie, Grady and James only meet Emily's mother and father briefly before heading back to Pittsburgh. Also, the character who Grady and Crabtree name "Vernon Hardapple" is, in the novel, an unpleasant, violent gangster from whom Grady barely escapes with his life, but is depicted as being much more warm-hearted in the movie, even going so far as to drive Grady across town after his own car is damaged.
  • James mentions that his parents lived in Carvel, Pennsylvania. Carvel is the fictional town that is home to Andy Hardy and his family in the popular Andy Hardy films from the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Alan Ladd's name was removed from Tobey Maguire's list of actors who have committed suicide because Ladd's family objected.
  • The combination to the safe in Walter Gaskell's house is 5641---for Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak in '41.
  • James Ellroy, a crime fiction writer, whose novel, L.A. Confidential, director Curtis Hanson adapted, gave Ellroy a quick, almost unnoticeable cameo during the WordFest gathering at the Chancellor's home. He is briefly shown chatting to his fellow guests.
  • The character of Hannah Green is loosely based on a real person; a University of Pittsburgh alumnist named Keely Bowers who rented Chuck Kinder's attic for many years. She did not, however, wear cowboy boots.

Michael Chabon (born May 24, 1963) is an American author best known for his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. ... The Mysteries of Pittsburgh was American author Michael Chabons first novel. ... The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only novel published by Oscar Wilde, and was first published as the lead story in Lippincotts Monthly Magazine on 20 June 1890. ... Route 66 was an American TV series in which two young men traveled across America. ... The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles is a TV series that ran from 1992 to 1996. ... Babes in Arms is a 1937 musical theater production which tells the story of a boy who puts on a show to avoid being sent to a work farm. ... Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an Oscar-nominated American film actress, considered by many to be one of the greatest singing stars of Hollywoods Golden Era of musical film, best known for her role as Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of... Actor Mickey Rooney speaks at the Pentagon in 2000 during a ceremony honoring the USO. Mickey Rooney (born Joseph Yule, Jr. ... Andy Hardy was a fictional character played by Mickey Rooney in an extremely successful series of films, produced by MGM, over a period of 10 years from 1937 to 1947. ... Andy Hardy was a fictional character played by Mickey Rooney in an extremely successful series of films, produced by MGM, over a period of 10 years from 1937 to 1947. ... Alan Walbridge Ladd (September 3, 1913 – November 7, 1964) was an American film actor. ... James Ellroy (born Lee Earle Ellroy on March 4, 1948 in Los Angeles, California) is an American writer. ... L.A. Confidential is a crime novel by James Ellroy published in 1990 that was adapted into a 1997 feature film. ...

See also

In 1992, Sight and Sound magazine printed an article by North American Feminist and critic, B. Ruby Rich. ...

External links


 
 

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