Like the biopic of fellow porn star Linda Lovelace, Wonderland tells a story from two differing views. Unlike Lovelace however, this is not a tale of the how the lead character became a legend in the adult film industry, but rather what happened once the legend was over.
The character we meet after a title sequence containing footage of John Holmes in his prime, cuts a pathetic figure. A cocaine addict subservient to all around him, Holmes has become in the words of one detective, “a mile of dick with no balls”. The downtrodden star’s relationship with one group of drug dealers, who force him to flop out his famed member for guests to ogle, lead to Holmes' involvement in the Wonderland murders, the extent of which depends on who is telling the story.
Director James Cox employs a visual style that gives new meaning to the phrase “ripped straight from the headlines” which, coupled with Holmes' celebrity, lifts Wonderland above the run-of-the mill police procedural. Primarily consisting of two separate police interrogations, obvious differences and subtle similarities provide a comprehensive picture of the crime and selective insights into Holmes’ character.
Yet for all the various discrepancies between the two accounts given, it is the few scenes between Val Kilmer and Lisa Kudrow as Holmes’ estranged wife, that truly reveal how much of a dick Holmes really was.
The difference between fact and fiction presented by the alternate accounts of what happened on Wonderland Ave are reflected by the reactions of those who loved John Holmes. Dawn Schiller (depicted in the film by Kate Bosworth) is generally complimentary of the film, yet has raised concerns that it did not cover the abuse Holmes subjected her to.
John Holmes’ widow, on the other hand, has complained that the film did not show how Holmes (in her opinion) reformed himself after the events depicted in the film.
The only glimpses of Holmes’ film career are seen underneath the biopic’s opening title sequence.