Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) is an English professor and an award-winning novelist attempting to salvage a life that has suddenly become uncontrollable. His dilemmas begin with an unfinished and overdue novel, already 2,600 pages long. Then there is the unhappy relationship with his third wife; he’s having an affair with an associate’s wife; she has become pregnant; and one of his students is suicidal. To his chaotic mess of a life, add a stolen car, a dead dog, and a neurotic publisher who also happens to have a perverse attraction to transvestites and young boys, and we find poor Grady about to lose control.
A person who has had great success early in his life is referred to as a wonder boy. The wonder boys in this film must face the fear and insecurity of forever living up to past accomplishments. And at 50, Grady is still trying to figure out who he is. He turns to most everything but a spiritual awareness in hope of finding reason and contentment. Indeed, most all of the characters presented here are disparate and dysfunctional. When I view films such as this, no matter how well acted or written, I can’t help picturing the characters facing several doors that they can go through. The first door has FAME written on it, promising notoriety and accomplishment. Another pledges WEALTH. Another bares TALENT. Though entering each of these doors will bring what the nametag states, the people are not guaranteed peace of mind after passing through. That is only given when one walks through the door marked JESUS. Yet, none of these characters even considers opening that door. It’s quite sad, and it makes a film going experience like this one difficult to enjoy.