review for Wonder Boys on AllMovie

Wonder Boys (2000)
by Jason Clark review

Following the triumph that was L.A. Confidential, director Curtis Hanson proves that film was no mere fluke with this beautifully written, expertly acted comedy that recalls the looseness and offbeat sensibilities of the best cinema of the 1970s. Michael Douglas wonderfully casts aside his typical onscreen persona to create a shaggy, likable lead character who looks and sounds like an actual human being. The performers surrounding him are equally impressive, especially Tobey Maguire, whose man-in-the-moon visage and natural coolness are put to perfect use in a touching portrayal. Steve Kloves' script is filled with remarkable insights, but is also perfectly modulated, never forgetting that the chief concern of a movie is to entertain and enlighten, and the movie duly prevails on both fronts. In a rare act of faith, Paramount Pictures decided to re-release this gem after an unsuccessful early 2000 run, blaming a poor marketing plan and lack of focus on its luminous supporting cast; the film was also re-released to remind Academy voters of its quality when they were filling out their year-end ballots, who responded only by acknowledging Kloves' adaptation and Bob Dylan's original song with nominations.