Next Stop Wonderland Reviews
Hope Davis shines.
Erin's boyfriend (Sean) has dumped her. I see why immediately. Why she would ever do anything with Sean is not so easy to see.
The film is irritating and all too self-aware; incidental music is all too often wretched.
Halloween at the hospital; nursing staff scares the hell out of the toddlers.
Erin's mother Piper places a personal ad for Erin in the local newspaper without advising Erin.
Sub-plot: the aquarium where Alan is working is planning an addition. Not everyone likes this, and the aquarium grounds are vandalized. Arty Lesser and his construction company want to build a prison there.
At an aquarium party, Frank asks Alan to kill one of the aquarium attractions and Alan's money loan from Frank will have the interest removed.
The ad does it's work; Erin gets 60 messages on the first time she checks. Yikes, so many people, so many losers, at least in their telephone presentations of themselves. She skips most of these, and the skips most of those that she meets. The men she meets are unacceptable for one reason or another. The Emerson quote (a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds) was a deal-breaker for three of the possibles, one of which was Alan's brother. She notices that two men watching her with a third were men she had met before.
'The only person who can help you is yourself.' Right. Women do not need men. Point asserted again and again and again.
Seventy-eight minutes into the film, she still has not met Alan, but a Brazilian man (Andre) is very interested in her. Erin likes Brazil and Brazilian music, so that goes smoothly for a time. Alan is with Julie; this is doomed from the start. Alan with Julie heats up for a moment; so does Erin with Andre.
Sean comes back and wants to re-unite with Erin. No such luck.
Andre is about to go back to Brazil, and wants Erin to come with. She gears up to do this.
Alan gets to meet Arty Lesser, who tells Alan that he is at a turning point in his life.
Erin gets held up in traffic. She tries to make it using a train. More rotten camera work.
Missed connections. Erin does not go to Brazil. Alan does not solidify his position with the big-time gangster Lesser.
During the last two minutes, Erin and Alan connect on the Emerson quote, and go for a walk on the beach.
Cinematography: 4/10 Never in focus. The poor framing and wobbly camera movement is distracting and counterproductive as well as amateurish.
Sound: 7/10 Some of the jazz by named artists is rather good, but does not really add much.
Acting: 4/10 Hope Davis is uniformly bad; the extra layer of chain smoking was a layer I could have done without. Holland Taylor was fine, Alan Gelfant was OK. Hoffman was as irritating as usual. Just about nothing seems to have enough buoyancy to counterbalance the dead weight of Hope Davis.
Screenplay: 6/10 Slow developing. Is the payoff worth the long wait? No. So many sub-plots were left unresolved. The Brazilian trip goes down the tubes. Too many characters, too many dangling ends.
Meanwhile, Erin's mother, knowing that Erin is no extrovert, has submitted a personal newspaper ad for her. This does not please Erin, but when she finds that 61 admirers have responded to the ad, she's flattered and intrigued. With trepidation Erin begins to return calls.
The soiree Erin attends with her co-worker is to celebrate the expansion of a city aquarium. Alan (Alan Gelfant), a 35-year-old marine biology student works at the aquarium. His brother/roommate has seen Erin's "soul mate" ad and, for fun, has challenged two friends to a bet. They invite Alan, but being a better man, he declines. The bet is that they all answer Erin's ad, go out with her, and the first one to score gets $200 from the other two. Now, by "score" they mean French kiss, so that scenario isn't the reason for the R rating, but it's still a childish, mean-spirited act that women do NOT think humorous. Clearly, these man-children are not familiar with the phrase "a woman scorned."
Erin embarks on the dating adventure. The string of, shall we be kind and say, unlikely matches is hilarious to watch, including the three gamblers' fiasco. We aren't dragged through entire evenings, just the funny parts.
Although Erin wasn't madly in love with Sean, and even though she says she's never lonely, her tenacious pursuit of a romance demonstrates otherwise. We piece together her story: a harmonious upbringing by happily married parents, family vacations to peaceful and serene Ireland, a doting poet father, and his sudden death, which left a hole in her heart which could be filled only by a facsimile of her happy past.
I liked that the story had interesting elements and several interesting characters. It was entertaining and sweet. The editing was tight. The leading man wasn't gorgeous, but very appealing. His character development was in stages and very effective. My only issue with the film was that Hope Davis has only three expressions: sad, content, and asleep, and the last one is an assumption. The rating was a very mild R, perhaps because of language on one occasion. Not an Oscar winner, but if you're in the mood for a chick flick and have 105 minutes to kill, you could do worse. I give it a 6 1/2.