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Released: May 01st, 2004
Running Time: 104
Director: James Cox
Company: Lion\'S Gate Films
Cast: Val Kilmer, Ted Levine, Janeane Garofalo, Carrie Fisher, Dylan McDermott, Josh Lucas, Faizon Love, Christina Applegate, Natasha Gregsonm Wagner, Eric Bogosian, Tim Blake Nelson, Kate Bosworth, Lisa Kudrow
Critical Rating: Not Yet Rated
Stock it for the crossover crowd.
This Rashomon-style film presents several disparate, nuanced takes on a bunch of early-80s dirtbags smoking drugs and murdering some other dirtbags. One of the dirtbags: porno legend John Holmes, who, by this point in his life, had moved beyond having sex on camera to full time drug use. The film focuses solely on the post-porno Holmes, and his career in blue movies is used only as a backdrop to the real story. Holmes' après-porn drug problems lead him to a very bad crowd of cocaine/heroin dealers, who spend their days and nights getting high and partying in a house in the Hollywood Hills. When this rabble decided to rob a local nightclub impresario, the consequences are deadly.
The portrait of Holmes that emerges is either a likeable, clueless addict in-way-over-his-head or a slimy snake, ready to sign a death warrant for his friends in exchange for freebase. It depends on who's recounting the lead-pipe murders that took place all those years ago on Wonderland Drive. The performance turned in by Kilmer kills. He manages to keep Holmes' personality coherent through all the different versions of events told throughout the film, suggesting that any version or combination of these stories could be the truth. Another performance of note: Eric Bogosian. Bogosian's portrayal of sleazy Nightclub kingpin Eddie Nash is over-the-top in the best possible way.
A complex, violent, harrowing movie, Director James Cox (and his fantastic cast) humanize the desperate, low-life subjects here, even while they are participating in multiple killings, managing to keep the story intelligent even if the characters portrayed are generally stupid. The film seems at first like a squalid, unpleasant examination of a sensational crime but ultimately emerges as a meditation on the nature of truth. In short: Wonderland hits hard and is well worth stocking in your retail emporium.
Included with Wonderland, a bonus disc containing the excellent John Holmes documentary Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes. Wadd, a former winner of AVN's Best Alternative Release award, is an exhaustive look at the "real" John Holmes and contains a myriad of special features that Holmes, Kilmer and movie fans will all drool over.
Pre-nom this one for Best Non Sex Performance (Val Kilmer), Best Alternative Release, Best DVD and, especially, Best DVD Extras - this one is crammed full of good extras.