Next Stop Wonderland

20 Mar

Next Stop, Wonderland

Next Stop WonderlandMiramax head Harvey Weinstein shelled out $6 million for this romantic comedy after catching it at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Is it worth the money? The premise, which revolves around two thirtysomethings (she’s 29 and he’s 35) trying to find their foothold in life, is a tad maudlin and a bit predictable. But the witty script that director Brad Anderson wrote with actor Lyn Vaus is peppered with humorous quips and tart contemplations about love, destiny, and life’s bigger picture. Wonderland will also score points with the local audience, since it was shot in Boston and makes use of such landmarks as Wonderland Racetrack, the New England Aquarium, and the Burren pub in Davis Square.

Hope Davis is Erin, a nurse newly jilted by her left-wing radical boyfriend; Alan Gelfant is Alan, a plumber struggling through college and volunteering at the Aquarium with hopes of becoming a marine biologist. He’s into Frankie the loan shark (Victor Argo) for his tuition, and Frankie, for his own sordid political gain, wants to use Alan to put a scare into Aquarium officials. Even more menacing than Frankie is Erin’s interfering mom, who places personal ads for her in the local papers. Erin and Alan seem perfect for each other, but they spend the entirety of the film circulating through the same urban venues and recursively coming into near-contact. Will they ever meet? That’s the question that keeps the film afloat, and though Davis and Gelfant are amiable enough, the real hook here is Anderson’s energetic craftsmanship and Boston’s opulent cityscape.

— Tom Meek

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