More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look: 33.33%
Pretty Bad: 14.81%
Total Crap: 3.7%

2 reviews, 15 user ratings

Latest Reviews

One Child Nation (aka Born in China) by Jay Seaver

Kingdom (2019) by Jay Seaver

Chained for Life by Rob Gonsalves

Ready or Not by Peter Sobczynski

Nightingale, The by Jay Seaver

Line Walker 2: Invisible Spy by Jay Seaver

Death of Dick Long, The by Jay Seaver

Blinded By the Light by Lybarger

Blinded By the Light by Peter Sobczynski

Good Boys by Peter Sobczynski

subscribe to this feed

Wonderland (2003)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"Shouldn't a movie about a porn star have more, I don't know, porn in it?"
3 stars

John Holmes, as if you didn't know, was the star of more than 1,000 porn films in the 1970s. That someone who is not a woman can attain star status in the world of straight porn is pretty impressive by itself, and Holmes', er, talents were apparently even more amazing. And by talents, I mean the size of his penis. (What else would I mean? His elocution?)

Anyway, "Wonderland" is sort of the story of John Holmes' post-fame life, but it's more accurately a garden-variety Hollywood saga of drugs and money that happens to be true and that happens to have involved John Holmes. His porn-stardom barely figures into it, except that we can assume that's where he picked up his drug habits.

In 1981, four people were murdered on Wonderland Avenue in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles. They were all drug users and traders and thieves, and they were also acquaintances of Holmes'. His involvement in the murders, or lack of involvement, is the issue.

With a bit of "Rashomon"-style time-jumping and contradictory-story-telling, director James Cox (who co-wrote with three others) introduces us to a washed-up John Holmes (played by Val Kilmer). He's estranged from his wife Sharon (Lisa Kudrow, doing solid dramatic work) and is cruising around Southern California with Dawn Schiller (Kate Bosworth), rescuing her from a fanatical Christian do-gooder and having sex with her in the do-gooder's bathroom just for good measure. This is a classy guy we're dealing with here.

Drugs are John's thing now, and it's a hobby he and Dawn can enjoy together. His lowlife associates include David Lind (Dylan McDermott), Ron Launius (Josh Lucas) and Billy Deverell (Tim Blake Nelson), all more or less the same guys, as far as I can tell, except that Billy is the one who actually owns the Wonderland home where the murders ultimately occur. John wants to help the gang acquire some capital via stealing it, but he's pretty unreliable when it comes to, well, doing anything, so he's a source of frustration to the group. This leads to a number of scenes featuring sweaty, disheveled men arguing about and using drugs. The depression is palpable; rarely has L.A. looked so ugly, brown and unglamorous.

John does manage to set up a robbery; alas, the victim is high-level lowlife Eddie Nash (Eric Bogosian), who is not happy to have been robbed. And so there's trouble.

This is tepid stuff here. It has a hint of character drama, and Cox is good at evoking time and place, but mostly it just wallows in the seediness of the world of drugs. Holmes is hardly a former star who's angry at how life has treated him; he's really just a guy who likes drugs. As such, he's barely discernible from the countless other characters in other movies who also like drugs (or, for that matter, from the other characters in this movie who like drugs). Kilmer's persona is strong, and he brings a certain energy to the screen, but he does nothing to make John Holmes any more interesting than the dope addict of the week on "NYPD Blue."

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 10/23/03 08:25:03
[printer] printer-friendly format  
This film is available for download or online viewing at For more in the series, click here.

User Comments

4/05/14 Monday Morning The feelgood family film of the year! 5 stars
8/17/11 bronson mejia Vanity actors 2 stars
11/25/10 Jeff Wilder Not too bad. I still like Boogie Nights a lot better. 3 stars
1/31/10 jerfox-2010 balabag 3 stars
8/15/09 matt good movie, but a slightly weak ending 4 stars
9/06/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Movie was dull, but dvd extras kick azz!!!!! 3 stars
6/18/05 K. Sear Aimless and poorly done. 2 stars
5/22/04 Morally Sound Great film. Gritty, well acted, and true. 5 stars
4/26/04 Lord Jiggy Well-done, but hard to watch. Do you need these images in your head? Beware. 4 stars
3/02/04 Angeleka Vicious...too in your face and lacks some sort of motive 2 stars
2/18/04 tatum Creepy and sleazy, top notch stuff 5 stars
2/02/04 john bale Unpleasant grotty story of drugs and murder, shot like a TV commercial, but well acted. 3 stars
1/21/04 Betty White Sloppy, boring film; this ain't no "Boogie Nights". 1 stars
12/31/03 Ray I didnt like it, its has a patetic story. But i LOVE LISA KUDROW 2 stars
11/07/03 Cameron Slick Well, there is quite a lot to this incohesive well performed wonder. 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  03-Oct-2003 (R)
  DVD: 10-Feb-2004



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast