review for Wolf on AllMovie

Wolf (1994)
by Michael Costello review

Mike Nichols' version of the Jim Harrison novel is a witty, intelligent, and beautifully made film that doesn't quite come off. Jack Nicholson stars as a book editor who begins to display strangely lupine characteristics after being bitten by a wolf. With renewed aggression, he begins to go after the hypocritical yuppie James Spader who had recently ousted him from his job. For about the first hour the movie is slyly entertaining, with its caustic dissection of the Darwinian nature of office politics, and Nicholson's growing awareness that his slow transformation into a wolf can have its advantages. At this point the changes are slight enough that the satiric tone remains grounded in reality. As the film progresses, though, moving closer to the realm of the traditional horror movie's myth and fantasy trappings, relationships become more unbelievable and it's more difficult to know what the filmmakers are trying to say. Nicholson, who seems to be loving every minute, gives a superbly modulated performance as the wronged editor, and Spader is excellent as his unctuously backstabbing nemesis. Michelle Pfeiffer, however, is hamstrung by a character that seems hollow and underwritten. Although the film leaves one with a sense of vague dissatisfaction, there is still much here to enjoy.