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Movie Review: Wonder Boys

wonderboysAs I'm sure you know, I'm a book reviewer. I don't think I've ever written a movie review before, so bear with me here. I'll make an effort with my very favorite movie, Wonder Boys. Sure, it's not new. I'm not a big movie person (I rarely watch them because I don't have the patience. "Then how do you have patience for books?" you ask. I know it doesn't make sense.), so I haven't seen most of the new stuff. I should also include a warning: Wonder Boys is rated R for language and a bit of drug use. There's no nudity, or anything (okay, there's a naked guy on screen for a couple seconds, but the private bits are totally covered), but don't show it to the kids - not that they'd like it, anyway.

It's about a college professor and author, Grady Tripp, played perfectly by Michael Douglas, who has a difficult weekend. His first book was a hit, but he's been working on his second for years. There's an event called Wordfest going on, and authors and editors from around the country are in attendance. Including his editor, Crabtree, played by Robert Downey, Jr. That morning, Grady's wife left him. He goes to a party at the chancellor's house (the chancellor is Frances McDormand), and we discover that she and Grady are having an affair. And that she's pregnant with his child. Grady goes outside for some fresh air and discovers his melancholy but genius student, James Leer (Tobey Maguire) standing in the trees with a gun to his head. Grady takes the gun and has a chat with James, then takes him inside to the party. Then Things Happen.

Wonder Boys is my very favorite movie. It came out in 2000, and I've watched it dozens of times since then. Parts of it are absolutely hilarious, and the actors are perfect for their roles. Better yet, it's based on a book by the same name written by Michael Chabon. (Of course I had to talk about a book!) What's funny is that I just tried to read it, and I couldn't get through it because I'd seen the movie too many times, and though the events are basically the same, the characters aren't quite, and it drove me nuts. So I put down the book, and I don't know if I'll pick it up again. That in no way means it's a bad book - my friends who've read it really like it, and I'm sure that if I'd read it before seeing the movie, I'd have loved it, too.

After seeing this movie, Michael Douglas often narrates books in my head. If I'm home and bored, Wonder Boys is my go-to movie. If you're worried about the R rating, I'd check out a summary or a review elsewhere because it also deals with some controversial topics I didn't address here. But if you're looking for a funny, very intelligent movie to watch when the kids aren't around, give this one a try.

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