Wednesday, 3 September 2008

No.57 : Wonder Boys

IMDb Link :

Michael Douglas plays an ageing English professor who enjoyed success with his first novel but is seven years late with the next, which is a bloated 2000+ pages and counting. His publisher, Robert Downey Jnr is in town supposedly for a literary festival but in fact to badger his writer into producing his book. Douglas has other fish to fry however, as his married girlfriend ,Frances McDormand, is pregnant and his most promising student, Tobey Maguire is troubled.

The literary festival hammers home how his career has stalled with prolific writer Rip Torn holding court. He does however see great potential in Maguire, the same he had when he was a wonder boy himself. In a bid to inspire him Douglas shows his student his lover’s husband’s prize possession - the jacket Marilyn Monroe was married in, which is then stolen. Add to this the shooting of a blind guard dog and you get a right old caper.

Douglas knows Maguire has the jacket but when looking for it he finds the lad’s novel which may be the next big thing. Gay Downey Jnr seduces the boy and signs him up but can they keep him out of jail and can the experiences of the weekend reignite the jaded Douglas?

This film is based on the book by ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’ author Michael Chabon and will be a real treat to any writer, aspiring or otherwise. Douglas’ waffling and unfocused new book is brought into sharp focus against Maguire who can bash out classics over a weekend.

The situations they get into never seem that contrived or farcical but they are funny and at times excruciating. Douglas is great as the slightly foppish scarf wearing professor. Maguire also shines as the slightly mental student although his intensity and unpredictability would stop me having him over for tea. Downey Jnr. Is OK as the fast talking publisher as is Katie Holmes as a student with the hots for Douglas.

The film has a predictable path, albeit one filled with pot holes and diversions. It’s all about our old friend redemption which is never a bad thing. When Douglas’ massive manuscript is piled into a car we know where it’s going, and that it’s going to be for the best. The ending is no surprise as Douglas is doing the narration from the start, but given the journey we don’t grudge him his outcome.

I really enjoyed ‘Wonder Boys’ which is a sharp, dialogue heavy essay into what it takes to be both a writer and a survivor. Douglas can be annoying as the precious Professor but he carries the film throughout and it has to be his best showing since ‘Wall Street’.

Best Bit : Look after my book - uh-oh

‘W’ Score 19/23

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