Tag Archives: Josh Lucas

Brian’s Review – “Wonderland” (2003)

In the police investigation of a brutal crime scene, one man was at the center of it all: legendary porn star John Holmes.

Brian –

Rating – 3 out of 10

Here’s a case of a film being made with an awful lot of style, a gritty and realistic tone, and a breakneck pace that couldn’t be more boring. Why? It’s not possible to care less about any of these characters. Every single one of them is completely single-minded or worthless. It’s a shame too because there’s some good actors in this. Val Kilmer has shown he is extremely capable(watch the Doors), Josh Lucas can play over the top better than most, and Kate Bosworth has been solid when she’s not playing Lois Lane.


The film chooses to focus on the aftermath of John Holmes (renowned 70’s pornstar) well after his career in adult films is over. He’s a loser druggie whose sole motivation is his next high. His girlfriend’s (Kate Bosworth) sole motivation is loving John Holmes. His druggie friends’ sole motivation is getting more money and drugs. You see where I’m going with this?


It’s hard to give half a shit about the characters when are so one dimensional. We are never given any back story on any of them. As the film opens, we know there was a series of murders involving a lot of money and drugs. We then spend the rest of the time watching investigators pore over exactly what happened and why. The problem with that scenario is: who cares? It’s not like we’re watching “In Cold Blood” here where innocent people are put at risk or Boogie Nights where we have seen an evolution of the characters. It’s loser druggies killing loser druggies without any back story.


The only side plot away from that is a very odd one in which John Holmes wife (played by Lisa Kudrow who acts like she’s sleepwalking) has a devotion to a man who fucks teenage girls and men behind her back, takes all her money for drugs, and has her help him get away with accessory to murder. Well……WHY??? The movie never explains what her motivations are and at that point I was too fucking bored to try to figure it out for myself. It’s incredibly lazy to slop down a factual event involving murders onto a screenplay simply because one of the people involved was a semi-famous pornstar and expect that anyone watching would care without any character history. There’s just too many quality films out there for anyone to waste 1 hour and 45 minutes watching this mess go nowhere.


John Skillpa (Cillian Murphy), a quiet bank clerk living in tiny, 1950s Peacock, Neb., prefers to an invisible existence. This might have to do with John’s secret: he has another personality no one knows about, a woman name Emma who each morning does his chores and cooks him breakfast before he starts his day. Then, in a moment, everything changes. While hanging laundry, a train caboose gets disconnected and crashes in the yard near Emma. People around rush to her aid, and having never seen her, assume she’s John’s wife. John’s life, very secure in unusual routing, is suddenly spinning out of control. Directed and co-written by Michael Lander (Solid Waste).

Rating: 7 out of 10

Lander brings a fascinating character, or depending on your viewpoint – characters – that are full of quirks, depth without saying too much, humanity, pain, and anxiety. He uses that foundation of depth to build an interesting movie that left me with a tight chest and a spinning stomach.

This script is brought to life by a great cast that includes Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, The Wind That Shakes the Barley), Ellen Page (Juno), Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon, Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind), and Keith Carradine (TV’s ‘Dexter’). Murphy was exceptional at delivering a man with multiple personalities — a tightly wound, introverted John and the sweet, thoughtful and personable Emma. The film opens with the train crash and moves quickly into the life of John and Emma. We learn about the world he creates with his two personalities — Emma leaves John notes of errands to run and leaves meals while John acts as if he’s never talked with people that Emma has already talked to. The two personalities clash over helping people, the investigation surrounding the train station, and the interaction with people. The suspense comes from never knowing if John will get caught.

But that’s where script problems stem. The director asks us to take some leaps of faith. No one in town ever suspects they are the same person. However, part of the anxiety the viewer feels is wondering if John will be revealed as Emma. It’s a tiny town and both Emma and John interact with a very small group of people; his boss, the mayor and his wife, and Maggie, played nicely by Page. This element, though, is distracting from other parts of the film, like a political rally Emma plans in the backyard of John’s house, a place he guards with the utmost of secrecy.

There are some distractions with the plot, but the suspense, direction, character development and acting are strong enough to carry the movie.