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    review by Luca Brasi                   Full Review List

Wonder Boys

Michael Douglas, an aged, but talented actor/producer pretty much past his prime, playing an aged, but talented writer/professor pretty much past his prime. Oh well, not much of a challenge there but it doesn't make this film any less brilliant. Wonder Boys is a fine film and I'm surprised that it didn't get more nominations for Oscars this year than it did.

Old Mickey plays Grady Tripp, a middle-aged teacher with a recently failed marriage, a book he can't finish, a poor relationship with the Dean, involvement in a sneaky affair with the dean's wife, his cute lodger worshipping him and his publisher hounding him. That's only the start of his problems this particular weekend and it's all about to get worse.

Grady has found something of a star writer in one of his more morbid students, James Leer (Tobey Maguire), and he feels obligated to cultivate the ostracized lad's blossoming talent. Of course Grady's publisher, Crabtree (Robert Downey Jr., in possibly the best role I've ever seen him in) would like to see what the boy's stuff is like - writing and otherwise. Since Grady isn't even finished with his own follow-up to his years-old masterpiece, he's not about to let Crabtree whisk away his future. All this while he's fooling around with the dean's uberclever wife (Frances McDormand) and trying to avoid any confrontation with puffy intellectuals, disgusted students and a blind manic dog.

What can I say? Despite what the story might look like when I write it, I'm hardly of the same calibre as the fellas presented on screen; Douglas, Downey and Maguire are nothing short of magnificent as the title characters. If you're just only thinking of renting it, please, go and do it; I really doubt I'm going to see any comedy as satisfying for the rest of this year.

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