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movie reviewsWonderland

Starring: Val Kilmer, Kate Bosworth, Lisa Kudrow, Josh Lucas, Tim Blake Nelson, Christina Applegate, Carrie Fisher and so on...
Directed by: James Cox



Sadly Wonderland, even with its delectable cast, slips and clucks through its own artful delivery ultimately creating nothing more then a kinetic mess of a film with glimpses of genius.

The story is kind of a non-proven fictional tale of an infamous non-fictional massacre in Hollywood California. Back in the early eighties a group of drug dealing thieves took the advice of a sleazy coke-snorting ex porn-star John " Johnny Wadd" Holmes (Val Kilmer) and decided to rob a huge (and powerful) Los Angeles crime boss-like entrepreneur named Eddie Nash.

Apparently the group of would-be-rich-from-the-take fools didn't realize who they were hitting until the repercussion of their act showed up in the form of a group of metal-pipe toting murderers sent by Nash to unlife the lot.

But the real Hollywood-style twist came in how these thugs knew where to find the addle headed crooks. Seems their ex-porno film king "friend" sold them out to save his own neck - or for revenge for their treatment of him regarding his share of the take after the fact…

There's even a smidge of thought given that Holmes himself assisted in the head smashing the thieves got. Which makes sense if he were pleading he had "nothing to do with it." A kind of old-world hoodlum test if you will.

We are also introduced to Holmes' Holly Hobbie-ish almost catatonicly dense wife Sharon (Lisa Kudrow) who still helps Holmes and his new teenage gal pal Dawn (Kate Bosworth) try to escape all the self wrought trouble…

The film's all over the place, and that's its error. You can divert and ricochet to and from times and characters (Charlie Kaufman continually proves that), but you can't just stitch together haphazardly…we get lost.

Still Val Kilmer as the well-endowed porn king John Holmes as always just disappears into the skin of his character — though here the manlyberry studmuffin is all bearded up and looking more like Bee Gee Barry Gibb then sleazstack Holmes visually. I run to see anything Val-yum does. I'm not opposed to tripping old ladies to get my center seat when he's involved! I am never disappointed with his performance - rent Salton Sea for example and enjoy…

Kate Bosworth is great as the clueless teen under Holmes' spell. Good for her and this non-all-American good girl soiree!

Eric Bogosian is just terrifying as the Austin Powers-like villain Eddie Nash. You could practically smell the Aqua Velva and death around him!

A virtually unrecognizable Dylan McDermott sheds his practical Armani and slips into the skin of a drug-snorting creepazoid as tough as an angel from Hell. Who knew this Studly Doright was so buff-o-rama? Not I said the little reviewer wiping her brow in fond memory of the vision of man yum before her…

But the rest of the incredibly talented cast is given tiny and infuriating bits to develop. The film has sexy mansicle Josh Lucas, quirky Tim Blake Nelson, Carrie Fisher, delightful Janeane Garafalo, Natasha Gregson Wagner, a scummed-up Christina Applegate and so forth just wasted.

Wonderland's style is superb. The sets are absolute time capsules of the era without being a cartooned memory thanks to the production design from Franco-Giacomo Carbone and the cinematography of Michael Grady. The editing and graphics are fresh and visually exciting. But director James Cox (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Capt. Mauzner) moves so quickly through oodles of information and characters he neglected to develop the story's people and make us care about their tale. Maybe he knew the script too well to guide it to first-time viewers? Cox does however, show he's immensely talented and just needs to take himself out of the mental vacuum before release in the future.

Snack recommendation: Sixteen sugar packets and small black coffee.


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