Wonder Boys (2000) – Curtis Hanson (Friday’s Finest)

It’s a wonder I hadn’t reviewed Wonder Boys by now in Friday’s Finest. I’ll introduce this whimsical movie Wonder Boys by celebrating its stellar music soundtrack which includes Bob Dylan’s Oscar winning song ‘Things Have Changed‘ which I discussed in my movie review of ‘Once‘. I remember Bob parading that Oscar stature on his piano for many months; cheekily masquerading it to his audiences. Who can blame him?

In the above article I mentioned how I had seen Dylan perform the night before he was presented the Oscar in Sydney. My old man called me just after Dylan’s live performance at the Oscars and he said ‘Dylan eyes penetrated the TV screen. He didn’t sing that song, he was that song’. My dad wasn’t exactly full of his praises up until that point, so put it down to nostalgia or what have you – Wonder Boys holds a special place in my heart.

IMDB Storyline: Grady Tripp is a professor/writer living in Pittsburgh who is struggling with writer’s block. Whilst doing this, he also manages to get the chancellor pregnant. In the meantime, he and a college student, James Leer are trying to find a rare jacket once owned by Marilyn Monroe, and a college girl, Hannah Green boarding with Grady has a bit of a crush on him.

Wonder Boys is my favourite movie from Curtis Hanson, although it was a box office bomb. That could be because it appealed more to audiences with a penchant for Arthouse-Cinema. Nearly the whole movie is set around campus life and characters in a state of intellectual quandary, so that in of itself won’t get people bursting through turnstiles. Any hows, it rocks my boat and why it features here on Fridays..

What I am most fond about Wonder Boys (besides the above stated) is it’s perverse humour and eccentric details. It is a study of young and older adults found adrift, but seeking merit and / or significance in their existences. Wonder Boys cares a lot about the characters, but ironically its modus operandi is not to make you like them rather view them fully fleshed out and under duress. They aren’t your Atypical movie characters and some might repel you, like in real life, but they are at least interesting and quirky. It was a world I couldn’t resist being pulled into.

Not many people have heard of this film. This minor gem is strange, unconventional, rich and moving. It is a classically written character study with unexpected comic twists and turns from every angle. You feel warmer for having watched this movie, and it is a shame that films like these only occur once or twice a year.
Since I am partial for Bob, I have relayed his music clip of Wonder Boys below.

IMDB Trivia about Wonder Boys:

*Curtis Hanson was a longtime fan of Bob Dylan, and personally approached the singer about writing a song for his movie adaptation. Dylan complied with “Things Have Changed”..

*The combination to the locked closet with the Monroe jacket is 5641. Fifty-six games is the record number of consecutive games that Joe Dimaggio recorded a hit, and forty-one is the year in which he accomplished it.

*The term “Wonder Boys,” a derivative of the German “wunderkind,” refers to someone who has greatly succeeded in their profession or art at an early age. In the movie, Grady applies the term “Wonder Boy” to James specifically.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV, Music

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