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Review: The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

A stunted coming-of-age story
By PETER KEOUGH  |  April 7, 2009
1.0 1.0 Stars


Trailer of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

Curtis Hanson's 2000 adaptation of Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys remained true to the writer's chimerical whimsy without getting cute. Not so.

Rawson Marshall Thurber's trashing of Chabon's first novel, which guts the book of complexity and ambiguity and reduces it to another trite coming-of-age story with a badly written voice-over narrative by a boring post-adolescent. That would be Art Bechstein (the nondescript Jon Foster, in lieu of Chabon's first choice for the role, Jason Schwartzman). The son of a gangster (Nick Nolte), and a recent college graduate, he's whiling away the summer working at a bookstore and humping the bitchy manager, Phlox (Mena Suvari).

The rest of the cast suffers a similar dumbing down — the trickster Cleveland (Peter Sarsgaard) becomes a smug poseur, the elusive Jane (Sienna Miller) a blonde cipher. Mysteries opens with Art's dream of infinite possibilities, then demonstrates how quickly these can shrink into mediocrity and clichés.

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