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Wonder Boys (2000)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 124
Fresh: 101 | Rotten: 23

Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire do wonders in this clever dark comedy.


Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 29
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 5

Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire do wonders in this clever dark comedy.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 39,499

My Rating

Movie Info

In this comedy, a middle-aged man juggles his problems with women, literature, and a career, while a younger man chases the artifact of his dreams. Pittsburgh college professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) is currently single following his divorce from his third wife; after publishing an acclaimed first novel, Grady has been working on a follow-up, but he's been sidelined by a severe case of writer's block. Grady has more than his writing career to think about; his affair with one of the


Drama, Comedy

Steve Kloves

Mar 13, 2001

Paramount Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (130) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (101) | Rotten (23) | DVD (25)

Michael Douglas gives the best perfromance of his career (to be remembered at Oscar time) in this screwball comedy about a college professor who's pushed into maturity by forces beyond his control; a well-acted coming-of-age saga for adults.

April 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Wonder Boys digresses so entertainingly, you forget how quickly Grady got into the mess he's in, and can't imagine where we might be headed.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Get going, you laggards.

May 11, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

World-weary has never been funnier or more fascinating than in Kloves' hands.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's an often-wondrous comedy, just as rich and surprising as L.A. Confidential but considerably less dark.

January 1, 2000
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I don't think I've ever seen another American comedy that mixed rue and slapstick and sentiment in quite this way.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This grand mess of a movie has many pleasures.

December 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Like a favorite novel, "Wonder Boys" gets more comfortably broken-in with each return, and Michael Douglas wears Grady Tripp's scruffiness as sharply as he does Gordon Gekko's natty clothes - addressing jealousy, panic and terror in creative complacency.

December 15, 2010 Full Review Source:

One of those films where the term 'character study' is used to excuse the fact that there's nothing of real interest in the story.

December 27, 2009 Full Review Source:

If Douglas and Hanson have aimed to make Grady as simultaneously weary and Bob Dylan's Oscar-winning theme song is, they have come enticingly close, with marvelous highs along the way (not just the narcotic kind), but they haven't fully got th

July 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

Writer Steven Kloves and director Curtis Hanson turn Michael Chabon's novel into a quirky goofball pleasure.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

As Tripp, Michael Douglas, looking hugely disheveled, does his best work in years; playing a real character after so many pictures in which he's glided by on an air of silken yuppiness, he proves that he's still a true actor.

July 24, 2006 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion, charming, and funny ... It's about finding the right inspiration and making the right choices. Hanson and Kloves, it's abundantly clear, made a lot of right choices.

April 8, 2006 Full Review Source:

Don't let the lame marketing for this film turn you off, this film is surprisingly enjoyable.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

I've never quite seen a movie like Wonder Boys. It is sometimes self-deprecating, often nostalgic and optimistic, but always slightly mysterious.

October 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Zertinet Movies
Zertinet Movies

Veterans and relative newcomers populate the talented cast, led by Douglas in one of his best-rendered performances to date.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Wonder Boys has a delightfully malicious beginning, an increasingly muddled second act and a conclusion of such moral uplift that it probably should not be shown to the characters themselves.

March 3, 2005
The Nation

This performance shows Douglas aging gracefully and willingly, an accomplishment that only a couple of famous leading men have achieved in recent years.

December 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

There's a story there, but it's probably not very interesting.

May 20, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

It's very refreshing to see a movie that celebrates writing and intelligence without stooping to become a filmed record of a novel.

April 4, 2003 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

It's so rare that I can't find anything to nitpick about in a movie.

March 18, 2003 Full Review Source:

Douglas is exquisitely subtle in this film; I love it when he takes time out from playing wealthy, power-hungry jerks to craft a real character, and this one is not an easy creation.

February 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

...a movie of small pleasures and gentle comedy. One has to be careful not to overpraise it.

December 8, 2002 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

With so much to say, Hanson's movie is too frenetic.

December 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

Audience Reviews for Wonder Boys

As far as being a writer goes, I may personally just be a hack amateur wannabe, and, even though I plan on being a professor, I'm not there yet. Regardless of all that though, this movie really clicked with me, and I found myself really tapping into its frequency.

The inclusion of Bob Dylan makes this already great film even better. If you're not into Dylan, or at least not later Dylan, you probabky won't agree. I think it fits perfectly though, so I'm glad it's in the movie. Even though my intro to this review showed my inability to completely relate, a movie about passionate people struggling to deal with all life puts them through is something that everyone can get, even if the specifics differ from the viewers' own personal experiences.

The weary, stoner, neurotic Grady Tripp is a great character. He's someone you can love and feel for, yet he's still very ragged, and you wonder why you should continue to care, if you ever really did to begin with. Michael Douglas is fantastic as Tripp, giving one of his best performances in years. Tobey Maguire, I feel, is channeling Bud Cort's work from Harold & Maude, and it pays off. He also gives an excellent performances as the troubled and mysterious prodigy. Katie Holmes has a smaller role, but she's also pretty good. Sometimes I forget that she does have talent. Downey Jr. and McDormand also give fine performances as always.

I liked that this was a small movie, and that it has high artistic vlaue, but that it isn't too pretentious or artsy, and that it became a sleeper hit. I haven't read the source material, but it seems like something I could see myself enjoying.

There aren't a whole lot of overtly cinematic moments, with lots of abundant style and flair, but this is definitely a "film" as opposed to a "movie". This ranks, along with L.A. Confidential, as Curtis Hanson's best film, and one you would do well to see. It's charming, touching, and very entertaining.
October 8, 2013
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

It's perfectly fine. I don't really buy anybody's character though. Michael Douglas, a depressive writer? Tobey Maguire, a psychopath? Katie Holmes, a writing ingenue? No, no, and no.
May 2, 2011

Super Reviewer

I don't like movies about movies and this is the next worse thing. A self-indulgent writer's fantasy. Putting a pair of glasses on A-list stars and making them waffle on about obscure facts doesn't turn them into convincing academics. Typical quirky American indy with Tobey Maguire playing a creepy kid again.
March 12, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Grady Tripp: He said things that led me to believe this is his car.
    2. Terry Crabtree: What things?
    3. Grady Tripp: "That's my car, motherfucker."
    – Submitted by Ann A (14 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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