Directed by James Cox.
Written by James Cox, Todd Samovitz, D. Loriston Scott and Captain
Starring Val Kilmer, Kate Bosworth, Dylan McDermott and Josh Lucas.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 10/28/03
“Wonderland” my ass!
Val Kilmer as adult film star John Holmes?
Josh Lucas? Dylan McDermott? Kate Bosworth? Faizon Love? You
name it, they’re in “Wonderland”, the story of Holmes just about two
years after his illustrious, uh, career ended and during the week of
hell that ended with four people being murdered over drugs, money,
guns...and, a whole bunch of other shit that falls into the Movie
Cliché Hall of Fame. I came into this thinking there might be some
funny highlights about Holmes’ career, the women, the drug downfall,
or the fact that he packed 14 inches of manhood into every
...what I got instead was just a fucking
mess, a collage of things that confirm Kilmer plays drug-addicted
characters better than anyone in film history, but not much else.
In July of 1981, four people were killed at a house on Wonderland
Road in LA over what seemed like a drug squabble. The owner of the
house and its many hangers-on were renowned for their drug
consumption; amongst those that used to “hang out” include Ron
(Lucas), Dave (McDermott, behind a wall of a beard and tattoos) and
Billy (Tim Blake Nelson). John Holmes, or “Johnny Wad” from his
film days, always seemed to be a little short on coke so he hangs
out at the house as well. As the film opens, we learn that Ron and
Billy are dead (along with a couple others), so we go into extended
flashback to learn how the bloodbath at the Wonderland house
occurred, and who was responsible; was Dave in charge of the hit?
Did Holmes himself take part in the crime?
Do I give a chicken fried shit? Director
James Cox (come on, could the name be any more appropriate?) doesn’t
seem to give a shit, throwing everything but the kitchen sink into
his film and putting it on a pedestal to nearly say “Hey ma, look!”
when it’s all over. What we get to look at include so many name
actors I couldn’t keep track anymore; Eric Bogosian plays a sleazy
dealer, Lisa Kudrow plays John’s former wife, Christina Applegate
plays somebody’s wife...shit, even Carrie Fisher—former Princess
Leia—shows up as a holy roller in the film’s opening number. Wow.
All dressed up and nowhere to go, the performers are mostly
energetic, most notably Lucas, who flies all over the place as the
principal bad guy in this film. But, I didn’t really get the chance
to know any of them, or care about why they get stepped on, waxed,
double-dealt or beaten with a lead pipe before the film was over.
Speaking of which, the violence in this film is “Kill Bill”
violent. Whoa, a couple people get killed and THEN they get
demolished near the end, and even I was like “Hey, Cox, easy
tiger...I get it already!”
As I said, Kilmer is as good as they come,
and his Holmes is doing drugs in almost every scene, so Kilmer is
nearly perfect throughout. The music is solid, and this shot of
adrenaline is never slow, even if it is pointless. The two or three
jokes that are made about Holmes’ legendary johnson are good, but
for a movie about an adult film star, the language and the visuals
are surprisingly intercourse-free.
Disappointing. Very disappointing.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard