Projections - Movie Reviews

Wonderland 2003


Starring Val Kilmer, Kate Bosworth, Lisa Kudrow,Dylan McDermott, Josh Lucas, Franky G,
Carrie Fisher, Eric Bogosian, Tim Blake Nelson, Ted Levine, Christina Applegate

Val Kilmer is the star of James Cox's Wonderland, based on the horrific 1981 murders in Laurel Canyon. The actor of The Doors finds a certain rhythm with this real-life porn star, John Holmes as the direction tries to find reason in raggedly depicting a sordid life which was rooted in the adult entertainment industry.

The killings were deemed the worst since Charles Manson's heyday in the late 60's and Cox tries to engage the viewer in a helter-skelter manner. Because of Holmes' name and his apparent involvement, more exposure occurred. Holmes is into cocaine-similar to the drug-added characters in the more involving Requiem For A Dream. This drastic edgy persona has nullified his career, but he tries to look good for young girlfriend, Dawn (Kate Bosworth of Blue Crush). He's not as lucky with his reasonable, but distant wife Sharon played with a serious tone by Lisa Kudrow.

The camera work seems to reflect the detachment of Holmes himself during the inquisition of his part in the brutal act. His story is pitted against a biker named David Lind, a hirsute Dylan McDermott of TV's "The Practice" in "Rashomon" style. The handling of the investigation and Holmes' life with Dawn and Sharon doesn't allow for enough empathy for the characters though some scenes have an oddly compelling feeling to them.

Providing support in Holmes' bleak new world are drug boss and minion, Eddie Nash and Ron Launius, played respectively by Eric Bogosian and Josh Lucas. Smaller roles are inhabited by visible performers like Janeane Garofalo, Carrie Fisher, Christina Applegate and Tim Blake Nelson.

Wonderland does a credible job of putting Kilmer in a crazy, chaotic muck. And even characters like Dawn go down the dark road as Bosworth manages to bring some realism to her role against type. Still, the overall effect is dislocating as Cox's measured, inspired effort has body but not enough soul.


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