Wonder Boys


Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    The most accurate movie about campus life that I can remember.
  2. Rolling Stone
    Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Michael Douglas digs deep and delivers one of his best performances in Wonder Boys -- a comic dazzler of roguish wit and touching gravity that is driven by characters, not jokes.
  3. Maguire and Douglas are extraordinary (though Douglas feels a little old for his role, which seems to have been written for a man in his early 40s); even Downey Jr. delivers a sharp, understated performance.
  4. A handsomely mounted, graceful production that is well-played across the board.
  5. The first more-than-halfway-decent movie of a new millennium.
  6. 75
    A wonderfully rumpled, loose comedy about the paralyzing fear of failure.
  7. 70
    It's striking on several counts.
  8. Plenty of fun while it lasts, but its aftereffects are mighty fleeting.
  9. Except for moments of labored symbolism and a too cozy ending, the movie stays sharply focused on its well-chosen targets.
  10. The casting of Michael Douglas against type as an over-the-hill novelist and writing professor is the sort of clever move that wins undeserved Oscars.
  11. 80
    With a cast this terrific and a story this rich and wry, Wonder Boys really can't miss, even if it thumps to an underwhelming and moralistic ending that undoes a fair amount of its goodwill.
  12. 75
    With a wistful look at the wages of ambition and the failure of promise, Wonder Boys finally celebrates self-awareness, ending on a muted, quietly moving note of triumph.
  13. 100
    One of the most joyous, diverting and original mainstream American movies in years.
  14. An often-wondrous comedy, just as rich and surprising as "L.A. Confidential" but considerably less dark.
  15. Lovely performances from McDormand, Downey and Richard Knox, who looks uncommonly like Little Richard, as a bar owner named Vernon Hardapple.
  16. Among the movie's oddball treats are Robert Downey Jr. as Grady's flamboyant editor and Rip Torn as a pedantic author and sermonizer known only as Q.
  17. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    A sweet screenful of quirky chaos.
  18. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    (Douglas) is a superb (and underused) comic actor, one who knows that the secret of being funny is never begging for a laugh.
  19. The smartest movie to come out this year, and it could hardly be better cast.
  20. 82
    This is certainly the best studio movie of the new year to date, and Douglas might even be remembered at next year's Oscars.
  21. A terrific movie about middle-age malaise and a comedy of unusual wit and drollness.
  22. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    Well-crafted scenes that carry a bracingly grown-up tang: unhurried, played in a low key, with plenty of time to savor the details of character and place.
  23. 90
    Downey, who radiates more energy doing nothing discernible than most other actors do when they let it all hang out, takes the film to another level.
  24. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    A giddy delight, with Michael Douglas delivering what may be the most relaxed and inventive performance of his career, and Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey Jr. trailing not far behind.
  25. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    Massively inventive, Wonder Boys is spiked with fresh, perverse humor that flows naturally from the straight-faced playing.
  26. 75
    See Wonder Boys for the acting, particularly McDormand and Maguire, but use the goofy moments to get popcorn refills.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 39 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 2 out of 10
  1. TedB.
    Aug 27, 2001
    Three points for the score. The few good moments in this film can't compensate for the stereotypical "writers" and "academics"---- Did Three points for the score. The few good moments in this film can't compensate for the stereotypical "writers" and "academics"---- Did nobody in Hollywood actually GO to college? Full Review »