Movie Break: Next Stop Wonderland spans many varying degrees of emotions

Image (slightly different than the DVD cover) found at

Image (slightly different than the DVD cover) found at

The scene is Boston Zoo, 1998.

Hope Davis plays a hopeless romantic, and throughout the film’s first 18 minutes–we see mishap after mishap:

She breaks up with her boyfriend (we presume), and after he explains about “Point 4” on a VHS tape, she eventually breaks the tape by throwing it to the ground.

At her job, she and her co-workers dress up for Halloween.  Erin is the wicked witch.

By the time the kids react, they are both:  a) stunned, and b) some of them cry.

Next scene, we see her mother (played by Holland Taylor) who is a matchmaker and supposedly hooks up with another guy.  The guy enters the conversation over drinks.  Apparently, the guy is not convinced * and he seems a bit disinterested.

* Note to guys:  At least, stay with the program.  There is always a way to wiggle your way out, if the time is right to do so–except if you are further along in the dating process.

Another scene has her in a vintage bookstore.  She drops a book and the book owner asks her to “not close the book, but rather read a sentence, a paragraph” from that page she accidentally opened.

In it, she read a classic definition of solitude–as more Brazilian jazz plays:

First, Astrud Gilberto–then Joao Gilberto.

Then, her mother is in London talking to her on the phone and showing off a Personals ad.  Erin reads it word for word, thinking that what her mother wrote was just plain dumb.

(Again, this was before the Internet and online dating became the rage, so please take it as is).

We then zoom in on a zoology class and then see Erin join three other people over drinks in a bar.

“First guy who scores gets 200 bucks”, as four other guys get a chance to read over the ad and then discuss strategy–including some parts that are definitely rated R material (hence, the suggestive language part of the film that some people should become fully aware of when watching this film).

Usually, Sundance selections usually take the viewer into materials either seldom seem in regular Hollywood films, or taking storylines in the news that are only known to regional audiences (or in the case of foreign countries, unique to that country).  The only reason that I could come up with why this film won the 1998 Sundance Award was its’ very dry humor.

Some people may like it, I found this movie to be a bit on the fair side.  It has its’ moments, and there are some moments that either will make you think to yourself, “I have seen this act before”, or “Didn’t that just happen to me over a week ago?”

A newspaper headline follows a local news story about vandalism that took place near the Boston Zoo.  A different addition was to be added next to the zoo, but the idea did not pass committee (supposedly, again I am just drawing general facts from the movie).

Another guy mentions the key line in the film at the 34 minute mark:

“The real mystery is, what keeps two people together after they meet?”

But somehow, the videotape did not break.  Her boyfriend rambles on, and the old phone messaging device goes crazy.  Erin tries to stop it, but she cannot unplug it.

The phone operator talks about “inserting your personal code”, too ugly!

Moving on…

More Brazilian jazz plays (sounds like “Baia” by Walter Wanderley in the background) as we hear parts of 64 guys answering her ad!

(Insert funny joke here…)

About the 40 minute mark, Erin meets her first “date”….

Both people look timid, and the guy tries to use his own dry sense of humor and seems to be going off the deep end, just a little bit…

The VP of Manufacturing guy, nice credentials–except he talks a little too fast.

Then, he barely takes a breath between sentences.  (Not a good thing!)

Another guy talks about other a few subjects too taboo for this blog space.

We go back to the first guy and he says that he, “collects South American art…but I was down there for a conference.”

Some other guy then asks for Erin’s mother’s number after she let the cat out of the bag.

OK.  Now, we are getting somewhere.  Took forty-four minutes for me to get a full laugh.

Next “date” we see is a highly intellectual man.  “He says, you create your own luck.”

The 50th minute into the film, and Erin says the story of most single people’s lives–as we see her sitting on a park bench as the fall foliage begins to turn and a few seconds later talking about the time her father took her to Ireland:

“I am not lonely.  I am not lonely when I am at home.

You get lonely in a crowded room, or subway.”

The next song that plays is “Mas Que Nada”, the original version in the 56th minute as Alan gets into a brief fight with two other guys outside a fancy restaurant.

Two minutes later–inside the restaurant, Erin’s co-worker tries again to convince Alan that she was “his tutor”, which he simply denied as false.  Alan comes back with presenting a “low key” approach, not a full scale date.  The woman agrees to see a whale do a bunch of tricks with two other guys as part of the class!  How cool is that.

Sparks fly in the 71st minute, so at least there is a happy ending.

But somehow, we end up right back were we started–aboard the train.

Too bad the cab driver got stuck in traffic that is the near equivalent of rush hour over the Kennedy Expressway the day before Thanksgiving in Chicago.

The final minutes lead into one guy singing on a plane about dreams and seeing them come true, ala going to Brazil.

The last underlying message about consistency is talked about at the end with the infamous/famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.

A nice view of Boston Harbor is our final major scene, as Alan Gelfant walks side by side with Erin Castleton.

At least, it was very cool to hear Bebel Gilberto closing out with a song in the credits, “Batacuda.”

It was a fair movie, but this would be a decent movie to watch if life was throwing you a bunch of curveballs.  Then, you can follow it up by playing some Patricia Talem or Bianca Rossini.

The Miramax release from Robbins Entertainment, Inc. was not bad, but not great either.

No bonus features were included, nor there were any chapter titles in the DVD menu.

I tried to think of ten different titles and none of them worked.


To all of my American readers, especially the new followers–

Please have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Cranberry sauce recipe optional, just fyi.

See you all next week with another cool CD selection.


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