Film Discussion: Handout for Wonder Boys
Film: Wonder Boys (2000)
Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Chabon. An English professor (Michael Douglas) deals with a series of situations over several days devoted to a literary conference at his college. Filmed entirely in Pittsburgh and at Carnegie Mellon University.
Questions to Consider (add your own!)
1. Describe the classroom scene that opens the film. What do you think of the dynamics and the pedagogy?
2. What do you notice about the party at the chancellor’s house? Describe any reactions you have to what transpires there.
3. What attracts Grady Tripp (Douglas) to James Leer (McGuire)? Comment on their teacher-student relationship.
4. What is the significance of James Leer’s book manuscript in regard to Grady Tripp’s unfinished second book?
5. At one point, a character in a movie playing on a television at Grady’s in-laws house says “The meaning of life is self development.” Comment upon this statement in the context of the film.
6. Comment upon these terms and quotes in relation to developments in the film:
Direction in Life/Choices
“Books don’t mean anything to anyone anymore”
“Being there for someone”
“I am a teacher, not a Holiday Inn”
7. Is Grady Tripp a good teacher? What do you think of his “teaching philosophy?” Does it matter that he teaches creative writing?
8. Comment upon Sara Gaskell (McDormand) as chancellor.
9. Comment upon the atmosphere at the university, particularly the relations among faculty, faculty and students, and faculty and administration. What things ring true, and what rings not so true, in relation to your experiences as a student and/or employee in higher education?