Don't listen to the negative reviews
This story has more twists and turns than a second-rate soap opera.
It's easily one of the freshest, sharpest and most enjoyable films of this year.
A great movie, one of the best of this year. There was a bit of confusion at one point in the plot, but nothing serious.
This film is of the eccentric genre much like Harold Pinters The Caretaker. I felt, given the dialogue it should have been hilarious instead of quite continuously full of giggles, which it undoubtedly was. There is always a danger in transferring the written word from book form to stage play or film, in that meaning, nuance and timing are detrimentally changed. I think this is a case in point, though personally its at the "feel" level, i.e. I am aware something is just missing without knowing what it is in specific terms. I wonder if the author was collaborative and approving of Steve Kloves screenplay.It was as if sometimes the eccentric build up needed a conclusion or a punch line, even a throw away line. Even in excellent subtle work, the conclusion has to be "packaged" in nuance. I still loved its comical eccentricity, yet I sensed a work of genius unrealised.
I rather take it like this : last evening, i came back from work, slipped on the pavement and sprained badly one ankle ! In pain to walk and having to rest, i watched this movie as it was the scheduled one
and it was very funny to see for a 1st time, a character having the same health problems than me : here, Michael Douglas is badly bitten by a dog so he limped all the movie ! In addition, he plays a great compassionate, helpful guy who lost his way due to bad habits and get stuck in a dangerous dead end ! And that's probably where i'm actually too. So this was really a great time watching it all the more than the cast is really prestigious : Tobey as the lost student, Katie Holmes as the straight one, Frances as the usual serious and romantic as well wife, and Downey Jr as the usual careless, cool buddy. As the movie happens at winter in Pittsburgh, the locations are beautiful and the story is full of turns, surprises and stress to keep going. However, the movie has a big flaw : the gay context ! Chabon already did a whole movie about this and here to have Downey seducing Tobey is really disappointing and in my opinion totally useless : I'm not homophobic but today cinema plays much too more this card as if being gay or bisexual is a necessary ingredient for whatever the movie is about ! In a way, as a straight guy i feel oppressed the same way i'm with the need for any action movie to solve problems with a gun and with killing the bad guys ! I don't like this message so that's why i give « 4 » and not « 7 » !
Every now and then a movie comes along which all the leading critics give rave reviews about. But upon closer inspection it becomes obvious that all of the applause was much adieu about nothing. So it is with this film. Having just seen it, I must say that I was not impressed. Michael Douglas (as Professor Grady Tripp) gave an adequate performance. Nothing more and nothing less. Yet for some strange reason he was nominated for both a BAFTA Film Award and a Golden Globe. Good for him. But quite frankly, I don't understand why. Likewise, Frances McDormand won the BSFC Award for "Best Supporting Actress" for her performance as "Dean Sara Gaskell". Again, she performed adequately. But once again, I failed to see anything in her performance that was so outstanding or noteworthy. Then there is the matter of all the awards the film received which includes the BAFTA Film Award for "Best Screenplay" and a Golden Globe nomination for "Best Motion Picture-Drama". Because of this, one might think that this was an extremely good movie which certainly had great acting and a dynamite plot as well. Well, I guess I must have been watching a different movie because to me this film was a meandering collection of characters and events which never seemed to coalesce around anything meaningful or tangible. For example, one of the college students named "Hannah Green" (Katie Holmes) apparently had a crush on Professor Tripp. Okay, things like that happen. But it was nothing more than a side-event that never really went anywhere and didn't add anything significant to the film or even matter in the grand scheme of things. That being the case, I thought Katie Holmes' talent was wasted in this movie. Another rather useless scenario involved a character named, "Vernon Hardapple" (Richard Knox) and his pregnant girlfriend, "Oola" (Jane Adams). Supposedly, Professor Tripp was riding around in a car that had been stolen from Vernon and he was completely unaware of it. Again, I fail to see the significance or humor in this as it adds nothing substantial to this film. Same thing with the names, "Hardapple", "Crabtree" (Robert Downey Jr.) and "Tripp" (for the pot-smoking professor). Come on. Making fun of a person's last name is the kind of juvenile humor one might find in a grade school playground--but it doesn't belong in a big time motion picture. In short, this movie had some big actors in it and it received a lot of awards. That's all well and good. But I have the feeling that maybe the stars in this cast somehow influenced the critics because the film itself didn't seem that spectacular to me and I'm sure there were plenty of other films made that year which were more deserving and much better in comparison. If not, then it must have been a bad year for the motion picture industry. In any case, I'm satisfied to let the viewers make their own evaluation and I will end with one last thought: Beware of all the hype.
Alternating between an oddball comedy, a surreal thriller and a meditation on the nature of writing, Wonder Boys is an original and thought-provoking film that doesn't quite reach its goal. It's unclassifiable and virtually indescribable, yet all the stylistic tools it uses seem to come directly from any one of the genres it's comprised of; it doesn't do enough to create its own unique style, and therefore fails to focus and become a unique non-genre piece. In other words, it feels too often like a mainstream Hollywood affair, when it's anything but.Wonder Boys is adapted from a very early work by Michael Chabon, to my taste one of the finest American novelists of the last twenty years, and his lack of experience is felt in the script as it is in the novel. It's filled with lots of great ideas, but it lacks in that ever-important focus - and so remains unsatisfying. It's an interesting movie that's worth checking out, especially for those interested in writing and authors, but it's not likely to become an all-time favorite.