Wonderland (2003)

AKA: The Wonderland Murders (Working Title)
(Release Date: (Canada) 8 September 2003 [Toronto Film Festival])
(Release Date: (USA) 24 September 2003)

3.5 Stars... But no nudity!3.5 Stars... But no nudity!3.5 Stars... But no nudity!1/2

Val Kilmer as John Holmes is good and bad!

J.C. Mašek III... 

J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!
Val Kilmer is infamous in Whoreywood for being problematic on the set. In fact, it's pretty widely accepted by everyone from Chris O'Donnell to Marlon Brando to Carrie-Anne Moss that Val Kilmer is kind of a Big Dick! I mean, he's no Al Haig or Michael Isner, but he's known pretty well as a Big Dick! When the time came for Barbara Fiorentino and Rebecca Mangieri to cast the lead role in James Cox's Wonderland, there must have been something relatively freudian in their hiring.

Yep, this is a movie about John Holmes, the (in)famous porn actor with the fourteen inch penis. I happen to like old Val, more than I can tell you, and I certainly wouldn't call him a Big Dick, but I've never worked with him. Still, he does portray the guy with the big dick pretty well.

Like 2002's Auto Focus, Wonderland is the (mostly) true story of the darker part of the life of a pornography-drenched celebrity. Unlike Auto Focus, Wonderland is focused and direct. It's less a bio-pic than a historical fiction played as a sort of skewed The Usual Suspects as told by actors playing real people.

Dylan McDermott is oddly menacing as the druggie biker David Lind (no relation to American Taliban John Walker Lindh... I think) who has a serious mad-on for Holmes (Kilmer). Why the semi-celebrity Holmes is so reviled by Lind and company isn't really made clear, but I'm betting on penis envy!

Lind and Holmes are at opposite ends of the Wonderland gang ostensibly (and somewhat goofily) led by smilin' Ron Launius (Josh Lucas) and including Tim Blake Nelson's Billy Deverell and Christina Applegate's never nude Susan Launius! When the gang from the house on Wonderland Avenue, LA use John Holmes as a way to humiliate Eric Bogosian's Palestinian gangster (not kidding) Eddie Nash like Tipper Gore after the 2000 Democratic Convention the proverbial shit hits the fan!

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A Very Porny Poster
needs some Boobie
Ashcroft Lovin' dem Tittayz!

There's not much question about what happened in the Wonderland house. It's a matter of public record, however, what was the John Holmes involvement in the murders of the four people in that house? Who really killed them? If John Holmes was indeed involved was the murder weapon really a lead pipe or was it... Hell, never mind!

The acting here is pretty good, even when Kilmer seems to show as much range as Flipper the Dolphin in his portrayal of drug-addled Holmes. While it's true he aims for a different persona for each character he deals with, they all seem like a cross between Jason Mewes and Tommy Chong! The actors here are also surprising. Not only do we get a Cameo from Christina Applegate, but we also are granted with a very funny gimme featuring Carrie "Princess Leia" Fisher and another with Paris Hilton for heaven's sake! Lisa Kudrow does a great job as the subdued and pained Sharon Holmes, and beautiful Kate Bosworth (equally hot in Blue Crush) is the Jelly to Kudrow's Peanut-Butter as Dawn Schiller. Mercilessly, though, there's not a second of booby in sight!

And that's what brings me to one of the Floyd-Song Weirdest complaint about this movie. For all the profanity, drugs and violence, there's almost no nudity aside from Kilmer's hairy ass (which we saw enough of in Schumacher's wet dream Batman Forever). This movie's about a Porn-Star... why are we getting prude about the prurience now, pal?

There's also a major stretching of the facts to make a more interesting and action packed little movie. Naturally, unless you're a Court TV or E! True Hollywood Story addict, you might not know this, but like King Arthur, if you're claiming this is a true story, don't make shit up! And for all of this, Wonderland does end up being a bit incoherent and inconsistent. You have to wonder how some of the characters ended up where they were and why.

But it's an incoherent history, as the documentary Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes demonstrates with honors. It's hard to bitch too much about making things up and being incoherent when no one can quite agree with what the eff-you-see-kay actually transpired.

One of the more endearing qualities is the multiple viewpoints of the story. When coherent, director Cox and co-writers Captain Mauzner, Todd Samovitz & D. Loriston Scott give us a re-telling of the facts with varying culpability on the part of John Holmes. This works (again, when coherent) especially because no one really knows what happened that night at Wonderland... and if John Holmes ever knew, he ain't talking now!

It's a mixed bag for sure, and when the story gets told it's good. When the confusion turns to incoherence, it's less good. Taken for all with all though, Wonderland gets Three and a Half Stars out of Five! The acting and the surprises are almost worth the uneven middle and the open-ended-ness of the whole. Still, as far as Bio-pics go (this essentially is about a month of his life) this is less embellished and more accurate than it had to be with a much clearer focus than many of its ilk. If you want the rest of the story, such that it is, take a gander at Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes. It's not perfect and it has a hell of an unfortunate title, but it's also not nearly as prude and gives many, many more viewpoints. See you in the next reel!

Hey, hey, big guy!
Click here for more reviews... and keep that thing in your pants!!!

Wonderland (2003) reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who alone is responsible for his views and for the fact that he has NoT "measured"... lately!
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