Heartfelt performances and tricked-up flashy film-making are not enough to distract us from the fact that we never find a reason to care about what happens in this story of porn star John Holmes and his involvement in a drug-related quadruple murder after his movie career was over.
Before the movie starts, we are informed of the essentials: Holmes (Val Kilmer) was the first superstar of porn, making more than 1000 movies and sleeping with more than 14,000 women. But when we meet him, he is no longer making movies. Holmes and his young girlfriend Dawn (Kate Bosworth) have dim hopes of some kind of big score, but mostly live from moment to moment on what’s left of Holmes’ notoriety. He lives off of the declining good will of some hot-headed small-time bad guys who live on Wonderland Street and one big-time bad guy named Eddie Nash (Eric Bogosian). He comes up with the idea of double-crossing them both at the same time and making off with the loot, but it does not go the way he planned and many people are killed.
It is all very sordid and unexpectedly dull. Lisa Kudrow’s appearance as Holmes’ estranged wife is the only character with any depth or humanity.
Parents should know that this movie includes explicit sexual situations, graphic violence, drug abuse, and constant profanity. It is a veritable encyclopedia of material most parents would consider inappropriate for children and teenagers, though it is all presented as sordid and destructive.
Families who see this movie should talk about the different ideas Sharon and John had about what they wanted. Why was Sharon willing to take care of John and Dawn? What was the point of view of the film-makers about what happened to Holmes?
Families who appreciate this movie will appreciate the far better Boogie Nights, inspired by Holmes’ career. Like this movie, that one is appropriate for the most mature audiences only.