The new film Wander from Director April Mullen is a B-movie in disguise. Many B-movies often feature no-named talent. This film, on the other hand, has an impressive cast list. But aside from its cast, this film features an outlandish story, quirky acting choices, and a tone that takes itself too seriously. All of these elements give Wander its B-movie flair.
A Wacky Story
You can find wacky stories in all sorts of films. They are not unique to small, low-budget films. There is something uniquely B about the story of Wander. At first, the story heads in a direction that is somewhat cliché. In that sense, it avoids wackiness altogether and skirts the edge of generic. As the story progresses, it evolves into something perhaps even more predictable. The problem is it buys too much into its twist. By the end of the film, the resolution seems completely lackluster after all the effort.
Reaching for the Stars
Interestingly, Wander features a relatively stacked cast. It stars Aaron Eckhart, Tommy Lee Jones, and features Katheryn Winnick and Heather Graham. While the group is believable as a whole, Aaron Eckhart makes some interesting choices. He plays an emotionally scarred individual that also experienced physical trauma. As a result, his performance is both mentally and physically charged. Eckhart delivers on the mentally paranoid aspect of his character, but it often comes across as over-the-top. Also, the character’s grizzled demeanor doesn’t seem to fit the actor.
Why So Serious?
Lastly, the overall tone in Wander is on par with traditional B-movies. While there are a few light moments, the film tends to take itself much too seriously. It does so to the point of silliness. Some of the film’s themes are relatively heavy. The themes of loss, paranoia, and mental illness are critical to the story. Those themes fall flat when combined with all the elements we discussed here in terms of their execution. Ultimately, the film would have been more enjoyable, had it been more self-aware. Instead, we get a B-movie that aims high and crashes back down to earth in flames.