Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland (1999)

 

Title: Alice in Wonderland

Director: Nick Willing

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Content Rating: 10+

Cast: Tina Majorino, Martin Short, Whoopi Goldberg, Miranda Richardson, Gene Wilder, Christopher Lloyd, Robbie Coltrane, George Wendt, Ben Kingsley

 
 
 
 
 

The second of my Alice in Wonderland movie reviews is one of my favorites: I used to sit and watch this version when I stayed home sick from school, or if it was a particularly rainy Saturday afternoon. So yes, there is definitely some nostalgia added to my enjoyment of this movie that probably clouds my review.

I think this version is utterly charming. It is by no means the most well done – as far as special effects go, but there is something so entertaining and light-hearted in this version that you don’t see in other versions. This Wonderland is a whimsical, cheery place, where the inhabitants are quirky, fanciful, and sure, some are even a bit mad, but they all make the audience smile rather than cringe or shrink back in fear.

Because Alice has a fear of performing (a task her parents have charged her with at a tea they are hosting), the inhabitants of Wonderland spend their time helping her to not be afraid. This means that there are plenty of musical numbers. But when actors like Martin Short (The Mad Hatter), Gene Wilder (Mock Turtle), Whoopi Goldberg (Cheshire Cat), Ben Kingsley (Caterpillar), Robbie Coltrane (Tweedledum), Christopher Lloyd (The White Knight) and Miranda Richardson (Queen of Hearts) are leading this incredible ensemble, every scene feels more delightful than the last. The songs, while some are cheesy or silly, add a lovely layer to the whimsical nature of the movie. The actors mentioned above are only some of the big names in this version. The cast is stuffed with well-known actors who fill the roles with excitement and fun.

Alice is played by a young Tina Majorino, of Veronica Mars and Napoleon Dynamite fame. Majorino, while not necessarily inspiring in the role, is an adorable, charming Alice, wandering through a dream-like land full of nutty characters, going along with whatever they say. She has a certain child-like curiosity about Wonderland, and she’s the only Alice I’ve ever wished I could trade places with.

 

As I said earlier, this is perhaps not the most well made version; some of the characters are Jim Henson animatronics creatures; the special effects are rather bad (though it was made in 1999, so most special effects from then seem bad nowadays), but the acting is marvelous, the setting extremely whimsical, and the script is very clever. If you love Alice and are looking for something a little different and probably lighter than the usual Wonderland fare, I recommend checking out this charming version.

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