Next Stop, Wonderland: Brad Anderson’s Romantic Comedy Starring Hope Davis

Brad Anderson was raised in Connecticut, and now lives in New York, but he considers himself a Boston filmmaker. “Next Stop, Wonderland” generated buzz at the Sundance Film Festival. 

The charming, vibrant comedy about the search for true love was snapped up by Miramax for a $6 million.

“Many guys call themselves Boston filmmakers, but we’re the real thing,” said Anderson, referring to himself and Lyn Vaus, co-writers of “Next Stop, Wonderland,” which Anderson also directed.

 

“We made a film imbued with the spirit of Boston, and we know this town inside and out,” Anderson said. “I’ve probably shot on every street in this city.

“Boston’s kind of funny that way,” said Vaus, who once worked as a security guard at Massachusetts General Hospital before turning to a screenwriter career in New York.

 

Boston isn’t Anderson’s hometown, but both his feature films (the first was “The Darien Gap,” in 1996) were set on the city where he lived for eight years. He also taught filmmaking at Tufts University, Emerson college, Boston University, and the Boston Film/Video Foundation.

 

“Next Stop, Wonderland”–as in the Blue Line stop adjacent to Revere’s dog track–is a fanciful story about modern love and romance. Hope Davis plays Erin, a nurse, living in Boston’s South End who has been jilted by her longtime boyfriend, Nathan (Paul Wagner). The sudden change in her status has made her cynical and mistrustful of men and of relationships. 

 

Her aggressive but well-meaning mother (Holland Taylor) places a personal ad for Erin in a local newspaper, and though Erin is at first offended, her curiosity leads her to listen to the voice responses. Predictably, most are from losers or poseurs.

 

On the other side of town, in East Boston, lives Alan (Alan Gelfant), a decent guy who also emerged bruised from his last relationship. Believing he’s destined to be alone, he pours all his energy into becoming a marine biologist at the Boston Aquarium.

 

The film, an original romantic comedy, unfolds as a series of near-misses between Erin and Alan, who are, of course, perfect for one another. Tension is based on whether the two will ever meet, though their paths cross several times. Says Anderson: “We even had a line in the movie where a character said, `In Boston’s it’s nothing to bump into the same person eight or nine times in a month.’ That’s conceivable here, and that was something we could capitalize on for dramatic purposes.”