Wonder Boys

Bomb Rating: 

I don't know about anybody else, but I sat through this entire movie watching a wizened Michael Douglas and thinking to myself, "Holy shit. That scrawny old man is bumping his scraggly gray pubes against the groin of Catherine Zeta-Jones." What more proof does anybody need that there is no God?

So you see, as a tale of mid-life "crisis," "Wonder Boys" comes off rather disingenuously. Douglas plays author and professor Grady Tripp, and in order to present him with an opportunity to reclaim his youth, director Curtis Hanson dangles Katie Holmes in front of him. That's not exactly a stretch for Douglas. What's the matter, was the Pepsi girl all booked up?

Fortunately, Grady knows right from wrong -- he just can't commit his life to either. He's impregnated the Chancellor (Frances McDormand) and killed her husband's (Richard Thomas) dog with the help of a very weird student, James (Tobey Maguire). Actually, I think it's less that James is weird and more that Maguire has adopted the tenets of minimalist acting to such a degree that he has now crossed over into the Twilight Zone. Anybody see him in "Cider House Rules" or that western with Jewel (which I think was actually titled "That Western With Jewel")? The kid is trying to see if he can act using only his lower lip, like some kind of idiot savant, only minus the savant part.

And isn't Robert Downey, Jr. in jail? How the hell is he showing up in all these movies? The guy is like the Daryl Strawberry of cinema. I don't know what Downey has gotten used to in the slammer, but does he have to play a gay character in every film he's in? "Wonder Boys" makes one wonder about these sorts of things, because it's exactly the sort of simplistic, plotless drivel that one would expect to be set in a university community where pedantic folks think about life a lot more than they actually live it.

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