Wonderland (2003)

wonderland poster 2003 movie
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 john holmes val kilmer josh lucas tim blake nelson dylan mcdermott

Hey…I have a great idea. It is going to be so easy!

On July 1, 1981, four people were murdered in a home on Wonderland Avenue while another was left in critical condition.  When a man named David Lind (Dylan McDermott) comes to police detectives Sam Nico (Ted Levine) and Louis Cruz (Franky G) with a story on who he suspects is the murder, the police learn that real estate and resteraunteur tycoon Eddie Nash (Eric Bogosian) could be behind the killings with famed porn actor John C. Holmes (Val Kilmer) as part of the cover-up.  John Holmes has a different story for investigators and as he tries to protect his wife Sharon (Lisa Kudrow) and girlfriend Dawn Schiller (Kate Bosworth), investigators must decide who is telling the truth about what happened on Wonderland.

Directed by James Cox, Wonderland is a true crime drama about the murders and events that happened at 8763 Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles, California.  The film was released to negative to average reviews and a poor box-office.

wonderland murders true crime scene

What did John Holmes do in Laurel Canyon?

There was a great movie about John Holmes…it was called Boogie NightsBoogie Nights wasn’t an adaptation of John Holmes life, but it heavily borrowed from it.  While this movie is a telling of Holmes story while Boogie Nights is a drama, you might as well rewatch Boogie Nights.

True crime movies can be fun.  They can be a good springboard to investigate the crime and when you have a fascinating lead subject in John Holmes, you should have an interesting movie…unfortunately, Wonderland squanders this by telling the story as dully as possible.  It becomes a Rashômon style tale that doesn’t have much teeth.

The problem is that the film puts flash above substance.  The movie has a lot of stylish looks but it feels like substitutions for telling a good story.  The effects often come off as more annoying and distracting…and desperate.  The visuals are supposed to enhance and propel the story, but they fail to do it.

wonderland john holmes blood val kilmer lisa kudrow

Wait…this isn’t one of your porn scenarios, John?

The cast cannot be faulted.  I’m not the biggest Val Kilmer fan, but he’s fine here.  Kate Bosworth is good as his girlfriend while Lisa Kudrow ditches her good-goofy Phoebe character for a more complex person.  Dylan McDermott is a little miscast as the “dirty and dangerous” guy, and it is fun to see Carrie Fisher as a Holy Roller when she’s had her own problems.  The cast is rather star studded with Josh Lucas, Christina Applegate, Tim Blake Nelson, Ted Levine, M.C. Gainey, Paris Hilton, Scoot McNairy, Janeane Garofalo, Frank G, and Faizon Love.

Wonderland is a very miss-able film.  The best part of Wonderland is that it is often packaged with the John Holmes documentary Wadd:  The Life & Times of John C. Holmes which feels like it is a better telling of Holmes life than this film.  There is a good story buried in Wonderland, but Wonderland fails to extract it.

Related Links:

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

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @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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