Wonder Boys

February 25, 2000 0 By Fans
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Still of Michael Douglas in Wonder BoysStill of Robert Downey Jr. in Wonder Boys


An English Professor tries to deal with his wife leaving him, the arrival of his editor who has been waiting for his book for seven years, and the various problems that his friends and associates involve him in.

Release Year: 2000

Rating: 7.5/10 (37,732 voted)

Critic's Score: 73/100

Curtis Hanson

Stars: Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand

Grady Tripp is a professor/writer living in Pittsburgh who is struggling with writer's block. Whilst doing this, he also manages to get the chancellor pregnant. In the meantime, he and a college student, James Leer are trying to find a rare jacket once owned by Marilyn Monroe, and a college girl, Hannah Green boarding with Grady has a bit of a crush on him.

Writers: Michael Chabon, Steve Kloves


Michael Douglas

Prof. Grady Tripp

Tobey Maguire

James Leer

Frances McDormand

Dean Sara Gaskell

Robert Downey Jr.

Terry Crabtree

Katie Holmes

Hannah Green

Rip Torn

Quentin 'Q' Morewood

Richard Knox

Vernon Hardapple

Jane Adams


Michael Cavadias

Miss Antonia 'Tony' Sloviak

Richard Thomas

Walter Gaskell

Alan Tudyk

Sam Traxler

Philip Bosco

Emily's Father

George Grizzard

Fred Leer

Kelly Bishop

Amanda Leer

Bill Velin

Officer Pupcik

Undependable. Unpredictable. Unforgettable.

Release Date: 25 February 2000

Filming Locations: Beaver, Pennsylvania, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $35,000,000


Opening Weekend: $5,808,919
(27 February 2000)
(1253 Screens)

Gross: $19,389,454
(28 January 2001)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Filmed in sequence.


Revealing mistakes:
Grady parks next to the fire hydrant and it wobbles when his door hits it.


[first lines]

Grady Tripp:
"The young girl sat perfectly still in the confessional listening to her father's boots scrape like chalk on the ancient steps of the church, then grow faint, then disappear altogether. She could sense the priest beyond the grate…" On that particular Friday afternoon, last February, I was reading a story to my Advanced Writers' Workshop by one James Leer, Junior Lit major and sole inhabitant of his own gloomy gulag.

User Review

Author! Author!

Rating: 10/10

I am usually annoyed by films based on novels about novelists. Really, it's
like the author couldn't think of anything else to write about. `Write what
you know.' That's what the writing instructors tell you. But a novel about
a writer makes it seem like writing is all you know. Who, except other
writers, would want to read it? The opening scenes of Wonder Boys,
buried whatever hang-ups I had. This story is less about writing than it
about the tortured souls that produce it.

This film is a departure from anything I've seen before. Really, has there
ever been another major studio movie set in Pittsburgh? It's about time.
Here's another departure: Wonder Boys triumphs as a character study. How
many comedies can claim this? And a great comedy it is. Who can't
the fact that one of the most important characters driving the story is a
blind dog that's locked in a car trunk for most of the movie?

Not to be upstaged by said dog, Michael Douglas turns in his best
performance since Wall Street. Douglas plays the ultimate tortured soul,
Grady Tripp, a much-respected, award-winning, and soon-to-be divorced
University of Pittsburgh writing prof, wrestling as many artists do with a
novel that refuses to end. One of his students, James Leer (Tobey Maguire
his best performance ever), is trying his hardest to be a poor, struggling
artist and is looking to be inspired. James all but cons his way into
Grady's life and the scenes between these two crackle with life. James has
his own novel he's finished, and Grady's editor, Terry Crabtree (Robert
Downey, Jr.), believes he's found a true `wonder boy,' the next big thing.
The film then dangles these questions in front of us: How will Grady find a
balance between helping James, fulfilling James' expectations of his hero,
and dealing with the fact that this kid is On The Verge while he himself is
on page 1163 and counting? Always poignant and dazzling, the film's writer
never strays from his characters in favor of overdramatization. Many
opportunities exist and Mr. Kloves always wisely passes.

Grady's relationship problems are also piling up. The story takes place
the course of one weekend, and Grady is faced with one dilemma after
involving his married girlfriend, Sara (Frances MacDormand), the school's
chancellor, his boarder and student Hannah (Katie Holmes, who will shine
once she finds that good, meaty starring role), and of course his estranged
wife (played by no one at all).

There's a lot to love about Wonder Boys and I assure you I've merely grazed
the surface. The real reason I went to see it, though it looked interesting
enough from the trailers, was Curtis Hanson. I liked parts of L.A.
Confidential enough to see what other tricks he has up his sleeve. I must
say that his work here is much more accomplished than Confidential, despite
the fact that most critics thought it deserved to beat Titanic a couple of
years back. I hope this gives you an idea of just how good I think Wonder
Boys is. Unfortunately, this is an early-year, low-budget comedy about
scholarly people, and Mr. Hanson will most likely be recognized for the
mystery thriller that came before it.

I want to be wrong, so don't miss Wonder Boys.

Grade: A