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Film / Wonder Boys

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Wonder Boys is a 2000 comedy-drama film written by Steve Kloves and directed by Curtis Hanson. Based on the 1995 novel by Michael Chabon, it revolves around Pittsburgh college professor/novelist Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) who, over the course of a weekend, has to handle a troubled student (Tobey Maguire), his unfinished novel (also called Wonder Boys), his pregnant girlfriend (the chancellor of the college and his boss' wife), a purloined jacket and a dead dog.

The film also stars Katie Holmes, Robert Downey Jr. and Frances McDormand. It was nominated for three Academy Awards and earned Bob Dylan a Best Original Song Oscar for "Things Have Changed."

This movie contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Chabon describes both Grady and Sara in the novel as being noticeably overweight, but are respectively played by the fairly slim Michael Douglas and Frances Mcdormand in the movie.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film is largely faithful to the novel across the board, with the only major omissions being the extended interlude at Grady's in-laws, Grady's aborted reconciliation with Emily, and the revelation of James' possible Jewish ancestry.
  • Brainy Brunette: James.
  • Consummate Liar: James Leer.
  • Doorstopper: Grady's 2000+ page book.
    James: Is... all of that single space?
  • Erudite Stoner: Grady.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Sara's husband is clueless about her affair with Grady. His blind(!) dog, Poe, on the other hand...
  • The Ghost: Grady's (now ex-) wife Emily, who appears only in a single photograph and is neither seen nor heard from otherwise.
  • MacGuffin: Marilyn Monroe's jacket.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Vernon Hardapple.
  • Parental Abandonment: James tells Grady his parents are dead and he's being raised by his grandparents. Or not.
  • Race Lift: In the novel, Grady's ex-wife Emily (and her two siblings) were adopted from Korea, but the sole photograph we see of Emily in the movie depicts her as caucasian; her siblings do not appear at all.
  • Shoot the Dog: Literally. Poe had it coming, though.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Poe finally comes in handy.
  • Thinking Out Loud: James narrates as he's carried out of an auditorium.
    James: The doors made so much noise!
    Grady: Is he all right?
    James: It was so embarrassing! He had to be carried out.
    Terry: He's fine. He's narrating.
    James: They were going to the restroom. But would they make it in time?
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Hannah Green wants to start one with Grady. He's tempted.
  • Tough Act to Follow: In-Universe. Grady's previous book The Arsonist's Daughter.
  • Trophy Room: Walter's sports memorabilia closet.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Miss Antonia Sloviak.
  • World of Snark
  • Writer's Block: Subverted. Grady can't stop writing.