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Next Stop Wonderland Reviews

Is it too late in the season for a great summer movie? This unconventional romantic comedy from writer-director Brad Anderson has all the right ingredients: A bittersweet love story, an offbeat sense of humor and breezy bossa nova score. Anderson puts a fresh spin on an age-old metaphysical conundrum: Are our lives controlled by fate, or are we all just knocked around by happenstance? Erin (Hope Davis), a 30-something registered nurse who's just been dumped by her political activist boyfriend (Philip Seymour Hoffman), would like to believe the latter, but that doesn't stop her from looking for meaning in all the chaos. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Erin, on the other side of Boston lives Mr. Right, aka Alan Monteiro (Alan Gelfant), a 35-year old plumber who's trying to buck his own blue-color destiny by studying to become a marine biologist. Alan, who owes his tuition money to a wiseguy loanshark (Victor Argo), is pressured into kidnapping the beloved mascot of the Boston Aquarium -- a balloonfish named Puff -- while Erin is sucked into a dating nightmare after her mother (Holland Taylor) places a personal ad for her in a Boston newspaper. All the while, Alan and Erin keep crossing paths, but as fate -- or luck -- would have it, they keep just missing each other. It's a great plot, and the fact that the boy-doesn't-quite-meet-girl premise was the basis for 1997's botched 'TIL THERE WAS YOU hardly matters. Running two parallel story lines with two sets of unrelated characters is a tall order, but Anderson pulls it off, thanks in large part to his witty writing, punchy editing and a likable supporting cast. But it's Davis -- who shone in Greg Mottola's wonderful DAYTRIPPERS -- who really pulls it all together. With her willowy good looks and a world-weary detachment, Davis beautifully undercuts Erin's cynicism with a glimmer of idealism, making this one of the freshest American comedies since, well, THE DAYTRIPPERS.