Wonderland

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Rating: R

Starring:
Val Kilmer as John Holmes
Kate Bosworth as Dawn Schiller
Dylan McDermott as David Lind
Josh Lucas as Ron Launius
Tim Blake Nelson as Billy Deverell
Lisa Kudrow as Sharon Holmes
Carrie Fisher as Sally Hansen
Michael Pitt as Gopher
Louis Lombardi as Slim Jim
Franky G as Louis
Ted Levine as Sam Nico
Russell Sams as Cherokee
Janeane Garofalo as Joy Miller
Natasha Gregson Wagner as Barbara Richardson
David Solomini as Guy at Party
Stephanie Roth as Biker Girl
Joleigh Fioreavanti as Alexa
Scoot McNairy as Jack
Julianne Steiger as Janet
George Leonardopoulos as Tracy McCourt
Tess Parker as Chrissy
Christina Applegate as Susan Launius
Faizon Love as Greg Diles
Letterman Meathead as Chris Cioffi
Eric Bogosian as Eddie Nash
Michelle Borth as Sonia
Chris Ellis as Captain Nimziki
M.C. Gainey as Billy Ward
Joel Michaely as Bruce

Special Features:
Commentary by writer/director James Cox and writer Captain Mauzner

Deleted scenes

LAPD crime scene video

Autopsy report

Photo gallery

Short film by director James Cox

Other Info:
Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Language Track
Running Time: 104 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film is based on a true story.

In 1981, four people were killed in a grisly murder on Wonderland Avenue in Los Angeles. As police investigated, all signs pointed to porn star John Holmes as the responsible party. Having fallen in with a crowd of thieves and drug dealers, the murdered people were former associates of John’s. As the police begin to unravel what happened, the various suspects begin to tell very different stories about the circumstances leading up to the murder. But who is telling the truth and what are they hiding?

Wonderland is rated R for strong violence/grisly images, pervasive drug use and language, some sexuality/nudity.

The Movie:
Wonderland is yet another movie I missed when it hit theaters. Upon my DVD viewing I found it to be a bit of a mixed bag.

I found the plot to be fairly interesting. I wasn’t familiar with the Wonderland Murders. I liked the murder mystery the movie featured and I was intrigued by the fact that it was based on a true story. It was an interesting, high profile case featuring a notorious celebrity. The film also cleverly presents every character’s different points of view of the events. Kilmer’s character tells his version of the story. Dylan McDermott’s character tells his and so does Bosworth’s. All contain little bits of truth and fabrications and its left up to you to figure out which is which before they show what really happened. It keeps you hooked up until the end where they tell you where all of the people are today.

I also thought the cast was first rate. I generally like the work of Josh Lucas, Dylan McDermott, Tim Blake Nelson, Lisa Kudrow, and all the others. And even though Val Kilmer is wacky in real life, he’s pretty good in the role of John Holmes. Kate Bosworth also proves herself to be a talent to watch as Dawn Schiller (though I must say that I can’t figure out what her relationship was with Holmes’ wife when she is his girlfriend). A ton of other celebrities have cameo roles including Carrie Fisher, Christina Applegate, Janeane Garofalo, and others. If you’re a fan of any of these actors, you’ll be interested in Wonderland.

All that being said, the movie does have its problems. There’s not really a single character that is likable in the movie. They’re all scum of one form or another, so there’s nobody you can sympathize with. All of these people make bad choices and deal with the bad consequences. It’s hard to feel sorry for them. There’s also not any big twist or unique plot point in the movie beyond the revelation of which crook is telling the truth. It is otherwise a fairly straightforward murder story.

I also wasn’t impressed by the dialogue in the film. It was overloaded with profanities to the point of being ridiculous. Remove the word “f**k” from the script and I bet it’s 15 pages shorter. It’s like actors don’t know how to portray thugs unless they’re screaming “f**k” at another character. Truly great bad guys have more going for them even if they’re based on reality.

The Extras:
I wish I could comment on the DVD extras included with Wonderland, but the screener copy I received didn’t have them. There was a teaser trailer highlighting them, but nothing else. I would have been interested to learn about the real life murders, though, and the DVD has that. You’ll have to check it out for yourself.

The Bottom Line:
Is Wonderland worth checking out? That depends on how much you like the actors and how much you’re intrigued by the dregs of humanity. Otherwise you may think twice.

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