Wonderland (2003)

wonderland-poster
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 5/10

Lots of cameos, Lisa Kudrow as Sharon Holmes

Interesting characters ruined by a boring story

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Wonderland

Studio:  Flirt Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  October 3, 2003

MPAA Rating:  R

wonderland-holmes

You know it is quality when Paris Hilton shows up

Four people are found dead in a home on Wonderland Ave. in Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles on July 1, 1981 with a fifth with life threatening injuries.  When LAPD investigators Nico and Cruz (Ted Levine and Franky G) question David Lind (Dylan McDermott) about his involvement in the crime, they learn that the murders are in retaliation of a robbery of crimelord Eddie Nash (Eric Bogosian) and that the group led by Billy Deverell (Tim Blake Nelson) and Ron Launius (Josh Lucas) are involved with famous porn star John C. Holmes (Val Kilmer).  When Holmes, his girlfriend Dawn Schiller (Kate Bosworth), and Holmes’ wife Sharon (Lisa Kudrow) are brought in, Holmes paints a picture of lies and murder that detectives must sort through to uncover the truth.

Directed by James Cox, Wonderland was a rather star studded movie that didn’t go very far in the theaters.  Receiving mostly negative reviews, the true-crime story never really caught traction and has been since designated to dollar bins.

wonderland-lucas-mcdermott

I’ll give you this money if you edit me out of this movie

The problem with Wonderland is that it is missing any spirit.  The director tries to make it fast and furious with a lot of editing and a Rashomon style of storytelling with Holmes and others telling different occurrences of the same event.  The problem with the storytelling, is that the order of events sometimes becomes a bit screwed up, and it doesn’t allow the interesting part of the story to be told…that is the Holmes part.

The movie starts out too slow with the Dylan McDermott portion of the story where Val Kilmer is barely a character.  Once Kilmer does show up, the movie picks up pace.  Kilmer isn’t a bad Holmes (who was a very “all over the place” character) but he doesn’t get enough screen time to really give a feel.  If it had just been the Holmes story with Wonderland as the climax, it would have been better, but since Boogie Nights was a thinly veiled telling of Holmes’ tale, it would have felt like a less entertaining rehash of the same events.

wonderland-kudrow

Could we just have “The Sharon Holmes Adventures” or something?

Wonderland does have a lot of fun cameos.  Carrie Fisher shows up as a Bible thumping Christian trying to save Bosworth from Holmes (and ends up with a soiled sink for her good deeds).  Janeane Garofalo also has a small role as Joy Miller.  Both Josh Lucas and Tim Blake Nelson are underused as part of the hit squad and Christina Applegate who grew up near the scene of the crime has a small cameo as Susan Launius.  Another blink and you’ll miss her appearance is by Paris Hilton (so I can’t really blame you for intentionally blinking too miss her).  I love when Lisa Kudrow shows up in a regular role.  She isn’t a cameo in this film but a full fledged character, and I thought she was more interesting than Kilmer and Bosworth combined.

Wonderland is a frustrating film because you do want it to be good.  It was a seedy crime and seedy characters and the movie should have been a dirty pleasure.  Instead, Wonderland is an overly long bore.  The one positive thing about Wonderland is that it is usually packaged with the NC-17 documentary Wadd:  The Life & Times of John C. Holmes.  It is worth picking up for Wadd which is entertaining and just makes you wish Wonderland was better.

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Related Links:

Wadd:  The Life & Times of John C. Holmes (1999)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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