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Finding Forrester is a 2000 movie, written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van Sant. A teenager, Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) is accepted into a prestigious private high school. He befriends a reclusive writer, William Forrester (Sean Connery). Anna Paquin, F. Murray Abraham, and Busta Rhymes star in supporting roles. Connery also served as one of the film's producers.


The movie is known for a particular line in the movie's trailer. Connery utters the phrase "You're the man now, dog," which became a popular internet meme, and was also the inspiration for the website


The movie opens with 16-year-old Jamal sleeping in his bedroom, which is stacked with 'classic' books, and then jumping up to go meet his friends on the basketball court. While playing basketball, he and his friends watch a well-dressed man drive up in his BMW and, apparently concerned with the poor inner city neighborhood, carefully lock his car before delivering a brown bag of groceries to somebody in the apartment building across the street from the gazing boys. The friends all know of a recluse, William Forrester, who lives on the top floor of the building across from the schoolyard and regularly notice him watching them from his window, although they never see his face.

Just one day after at school, one of the boys challenges Jamal to sneak into the apartment. The boys dare Jamal and he sneaks into Forrester's apartment. Unusually the window is open and he climbs inside to discover the television blaring but Forrester is nowhere to be seen. He then finds and picks up a small letter opener and puts it in his backpack. Suddenly Jamal is surprised by Forrester, he runs out of the apartment, leaving his backpack.

Even after Jamal's failed burglary attempt Forrester is still watching them; Jamal sees that the mystery man has hung Jamal's backpack up in the, firmly shut, window. Soon after the man in the BMW shows up again, and Jamal introduces himself, telling the man he will not do anything to the car, suggesting that the BMW is just a car like any other, but the man tells Jamal that a BMW is not just any car, implying that being poor, Jamal would not know much about BMW. Jamal then goes on to give a mini-lecture about the history of the BMW, putting the man in his place he adds "but I guess you knew that seeing as you lease one and all". As Jamal and the man part, Jamal's backpack falls from the sky and lands next to him. He picks it up and takes it back home where he looks through to make sure all of his notebooks and materials are still there. To his surprise, he finds his writing marked up.

Jamal goes to the apartment and knocks on the door, apologizing for the previous intrusion and asking Forrester if he would look at more of his work. Forrester responds that he would like to first see 5,000 words on why Jamal should "stay the fuck out of his home", which Jamal promptly completes in his bedroom.

As part of the backstory, Jamal has just completed state required testing where it is revealed that he is an intellectually gifted student. His school counselor sets up a meeting with Jamal's mother and a recruiter from a highly selective private school, Mallor Callow, which covets Jamal for his athletic ability, as much as for his intellectual capability. The recruiter offers Jamal a scholarship, suggesting that his play on the basketball court is welcome, but not absolutely necessary.

In class, Jamal also has obstacles to hurdle, the most prominent being the expectations or lack of, by his arrogant literature teacher, Professor Crawford. Jamal watches Crawford completely destroy an obviously struggling student and defends the student by matching Crawford's hobby of starting famous quotes from authors for the students to finish. Jamal obviously know's his stuff as Crawford feels threatened, probably because nobody has ever been able to do so before, and tells Jamal to leave his class. Jamal later comes to learn that Crawford and Forrester are former colleagues and in fact, both attended Mailer Callow as students. Crawford has built a reputation as an authority on Forrester's works and had at one time attempted to publish a biography of him, which Forrester blocked. Crawford also attempted to publish his own book, but as Forrester indicates, it was rejected.

Jamal convinces Forrester to go out of the apartment and attend a game at Madison Square Gardenmarker. It begins well, but later, Forrester is separated from Jamal when the crowd leaves the stadium and Jamal finds Forrester having a severe panic attack. After leaving the game, Jamal takes William to see Yankee Stadium as a surprise. He and William go out on the field to the pitcher's mound, where William tells Jamal about his family, specifically his brother's alcoholism that leads to his death. He also explains how the subsequent deaths of his parents soon after affected him and led to him becoming a recluse.

As part of Jamal's tutelage, Forrester gives him some of his own private essays to rewrite(giving him the title and first paragraph), with the admonishment that Jamal is never to show any of this work to anyone. But when a prestigious writing contest requires some of Jamal's best work, he falls back on a particular piece of Forrester's that he re-wrote and submits it as his own, not realizing it was one of Forrester's few published works. Crawford immediately finds the parallels with Forrester's piece published in 1960 and brings Jamal up on plagiarism charges, to which Jamal has to defend himself against without admitting his friendship with Forrester.

Forrester is angry at Jamal for breaking his promise, while Jamal is angry at Forrester for closing himself off to the world and not having the courage to re-enter it. Forrester indicates there is no reason for him to come to Jamal's assistance and admit their relationship to Crawford, which Jamal sees as another act of cowardice, although he maintains the secrecy of their friendship.

On the basketball court, Jamal also faces another truth: that his scholarship and presence at the school was, in fact, based more on the school boards wish to win basketball championships, knowledge that is made clear to him by Dr. Pearce at a formal party and later one of Jamal's games. Pearce suggests to Jamal that as long as he can win the basketball championship, the plagiarism charge will go away. When Jamal comes to realize his intellectual gifts have less to do with remaining at Mailer Callow than his ability to lead the team to a championship, he comes to a crossroad where he wants to decide between following his literary heart or the path his physical skills can take him. At the championship game, Jamal may have purposely missed 2 critical free throws in spite of Crawford's hostility towards him, or he could have just missed them.

When the awards ceremony for the literary contest are held, where the contestants read their own work, Jamal is discouraged from attending, but attends anyway, where Crawford's presence prevents Jamal from reading his essay. During the literary contest, Forrester pays a surprise visit to the school to address the professor's accusations in person with subtlety: he reads what everyone assumes was his own unpublished writing, then reveals it as Jamal's work, admitting his friendship with Jamal and thereby proving his innocence. The charges are dropped over Crawford's objections, and Jamal is reinstated.

Afterwards, Forrester thanks Jamal and tells him of his desire to return to his homeland of Scotlandmarker.

The movie then cuts to Jamal's senior year of high school, when he is a successful student and has received many enrollment offers from prestigious universities. One day, Forrester's solicitor schedules a meeting with Jamal, and reveals that Forrester has died of cancer; Jamal learns that Forrester was terminally ill while they knew each other. In accordance with Forrester's will, Jamal is given a package and a letter, in which Forrester thanks Jamal for helping him rekindle his desire to live. The package contains the manuscript for Forrester's second, and last novel, called Sunset, for which Jamal is to write the foreword.


New York poet Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle provided several notebooks worth of intense handwriting to portray Forrester's notebooks in the film. Principal photography was shot entirely in Manhattanmarker, the Bronxmarker, and Brooklynmarker (many Mailor Academy scenes were filmed at Regis High Schoolmarker on the Upper East Sidemarker of Manhattan), with some scenery and pick-up shots made in suburban Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, during post-production. Parts of the film were also shot in Hamilton, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker.

Matt Damon makes a brief cameo appearance near the end of the film.

Critical response

When Finding Forrester opened in December 2000, it received mostly positive reviews. It garnered two thumbs up from Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper. Roeper considered it one of the 10 best films of 2000. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 74% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on a sample of 120 reviews.

Box office performance

The movie received limited release on December 22, 2000 in 200 theaters, grossing USD$701,207 in the opening weekend. It later received commercial release where it opened at #7 in 2002 theaters, grossing $11,112,139 in the opening weekend. It went on to gross $51,804,714 domestically and $28,245,050 from the Foreign market for a worldwide total of $80,049,764.


The only track that appears in the movie that is not on the soundtrack is played during the Bike Ride that Forrester takes. The song is from Schulwerk by Carl Orff (more specifically the "Gassenhauer" track) it was arranged and produced by Bill Brown.

Soundtrack Track Listing
  1. "Recollections" (Billy Cobham, Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul)
  2. "Little Church" (Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Jack DeJohnette, Steve Grossman, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Keith Jarrett, John McLaughlin)
  3. "Black Satin" (David Creamer, Miles Davis, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, James Mtume, Badal Roy, Collin Walcott)
  4. "Under a Golden Sky" (Bill Frisell)
  5. "Happy House" (Ed Blackwell, Bobby Bradford, Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins, Dewey Redman)
  6. "Over the Rainbow (Photo Book)" (Bill Frisell)
  7. "Lonely Fire" [Excerpt]( Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Dave Holland, Bennie Maupin, John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul)
  8. "Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole)
  9. "Vonetta" (Ron Carter, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams)
  10. "Coffaro's Theme" (Curtis Fowlkes, Bill Frisell, Eyvind Kang, Ron Miles)
  11. "Foreigner in a Free Land" (Ornette Coleman, The London Symphony Orchestra, David Measham)
  12. "Beautiful E." (Joey Baron, Kermit Driscoll, Bill Frisell, Hank Roberts)
  13. "In a Silent Way [DJ Cam Remix]" (Miles Davis)


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