Next Stop Wonderland - * * * 1/2*

Next Stop Wonderland

Next Stop Wonderland is a nice little independent gem hidden in the post-Summer, pre-Fall film wasteland. A quirky and enjoyable romantic comedy, the film provides refreshing characterizations and plenty of humor.

Erin Castleton (Hope Davis) is hopelessly single. Her last boyfriend, Sean (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a radical environmentalist, has just ditched her…again. Erin feels despondent that she never seems to meet the right guy.

But wait…the perfect man for Erin seems to be always right around the corner. He’s Alan Monteiro (Alan Gelfant), a part-time plumber with a passion for marine biology. But, although their paths keep crossing, Alan and Erin never quite meet.

So, Erin’s mother (Holland Taylor) brews up a scheme to get her daughter safely married off. She places an ad in the personals section for Erin (without her knowledge). Erin is left to cope with the 64 various replies to her mother’s slightly exaggerated ad.

In most romantic comedies, the leads meet cute, but don’t get together until the end. Next Stop Wonderland takes the tack of Sleepless in Seattle, or Til There Was You in which the leads don’t even MEET until the end. However, this actually works well… As usual, you know the couple is a perfect match, but the film doesn’t have to introduce countless false obstacles to keep the characters from recognizing that fact.

However, the film has to do something to pass the time before “the meeting”. Next Stop Wonderland handles the problem deftly…not only is the personal ad situation amusing, but it underscores the wonderful personalities involved all throughout the film.

Hope Davis dominates the film with her winning performance. She even overshadows her romantic costar, Alan Gelfant…mainly because she has the film’s most engaging subplot. However, that’s not to discount Gelfant’s performance, which is good, but simply outshone.

The conversations and characters throughout Next Stop Wonderland would make it worth watching, even without the romance. The romantic elements of the film are simply icing on the cake. Seek out this little gem.

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