UNDEPENDABLE. UNPREDICTABLE. UNFORGETTABLE.
Pittsburgh university professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) teaches creative writing while desperately trying to finish the follow-up novel to the book that made him famous; one of his students (Tobey Maguire) is peculiar and brilliant… Curtis Hanson followed the success of L.A. Confidential (1997) with this dramedy set in a wet and wintry Pittsburgh. Douglas is a treat to watch as he stumbles through life, trying to keep his publisher (Robert Downey, Jr.) from finding out how far behind he is on his new novel; he’s also having an affair with his boss’s wife (Frances McDormand). A first-rate cast and a terrific soundtrack of songs elevate this amusing and sharp film about the struggles behind intellectual ambition.
2000-U.S. 112 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Curtis Hanson, Scott Rudin. Directed by Curtis Hanson. Screenplay: Steve Kloves. Novel: Michael Chabon. Song: ”Things Have Changed” (Bob Dylan). Cast: Michael Douglas (Grady Tripp), Tobey Maguire (James Leer), Frances McDormand (Sara Gaskell), Robert Downey, Jr., Katie Holmes, Richard Thomas… Rip Torn.
Oscar: Best Original Song. Golden Globe: Best Original Song.
Last word: “I’m somebody who very much enjoys it when the world in which a story takes place is part of that story. And so, in going to Pittsburgh, we tried just as hard to capture the unique feel of the city and make it a part of the story. In fact, it was thematically so appropriate, because when I first went to Pittsburgh, I had never been there before, and we hadn’t even decided to shoot there yet. I just went to see the location of Michael Chabon’s novel. Once there, I became aware that Pittsburgh is a ‘wonder boy,’ in the narrow sense of the term, just as the human characters are. It has this rich industrial past, when it was the heart of the U.S. steel industry, and it burned out as the industry burned out and moved elsewhere.” (Hanson, The A.V. Club)