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Wonderland (2003)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate Reissue)
Genres:
Addiction Drama, Crime Drama, Docudrama, Drama
Director:
James Cox James Cox
Starring:
Kate Bosworth Kate Bosworth
Carrie Fisher Carrie Fisher
Val Kilmer Val Kilmer
Kim Marriner Kim Marriner
Dylan McDermott Dylan McDermott

6.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 28, 2005
Hopefully, it is no secret to you that Val Kilmer is one of the best actors in Hollywood today. Sure, he did turn Batman into a sissy, but just think about some of his other mesmerizing films, like "The Doors", "Tombstone", and "The Ghost and the Darkness". He is dripping with both charisma and intensity. In "Wonderland", he delivers possibly his most complete performance to date, as porn superstar and Hollywood legend John Holmes. And, though his performance is intense and emotionally diverse as any in recent memory, his is not the performance that shines brightest in the film.

Val Kilmer is John Holmes, aka Johnny Wadd, who starred in over 1,000 porn films in the 1970's. "Wonderland", however, is not the John Holmes story -- it centers around one event in his life that led to infamy. When Holmes tells four of his dopehead friends that his buddy Eddie Nash (Eric Bogosian) keeps tons of cash in his house, they decide to go and rob him, stealing cash and jewelry. Eventually, Holmes is fingered by Nash and beaten until he squeals on his four friends. Holmes then, according to legend, helps Nash's henchmen break into 8763 Wonderland Avenue, where they brutally murder the four dopeheads in one of the most grisly death scenes ever discovered in the Hollywood Hills. Lisa Kudrow and Kate Bosworth supply supplemental plot as Holmes' wife and girlfriend, but I will get into their performances in a moment.

"Wonderland" is a cross between "Boogie Nights" and "Auto Focus". Kilmer replaces Wahlberg, Kudrow replaces Moore, and Bosworth replaces Graham. And, as in "Auto Focus", Kilmer plays Holmes much as Kinnear played Crane -- as a man with an addiction who needed help, but was ultimately brought down by it. Here, we do not see so much of a film about a porn star and his profession, as we do a film about a man with inner demons who let his habit get the best of him. Kilmer is phenomenal with his emotional depth and character complexity -- certainly Oscar worthy.

The most intriguing parts of "Wonderland" involves the relationship between Holmes, his wife Sharon (Kudrow) and his girlfriend Dawn (Bosworth). Holmes seems to be with Dawn because of her energy and youth, but stays with his wife because of her wisdom and strength and ability to keep him on the straight and narrow, at times. Kudrow delivers one of the best supporting performances of the year as Sharon Holmes, proves that she is one hell of a dramatic actress, and will, hopefully, be the first 'Friends' cast member to be nominated for and win a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. She is absolutely incredible here.

If you go to see "Wonderland" expecting to see another "Boogie Nights" or a biography of the life of John Holmes, you will be wholly disappointed. This is a film about love, addiction, and the mistakes that we make in life. It is a film with magnificent performances, magnificent plotlines, and one of the most magnificent character studies in a long time. "Wonderland" is one of the best films of the year and will hopefully show the world what Lisa Kudrow can do with a role. She is worth admission alone. 8/10.
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