New Alice In Wonderland Movie Earns A Solid “It Was Pretty Okay” From Alice Is Everywhere
A little Wonderland preamble, before we dive into my Alice Through The Looking Glass review:
This movie is not a faithful adaptation of the book. It flat out has nothing to do with the book, really. And I am totally okay with that. I enjoy seeing what creative people do with Wonderland and Looking Glass characters. I feel like those characters belong to all of us. Heck, legally they do! The copyright to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland expired in 1907, after all. While I would love to someday see an expertly, authentically done, Carrollian Wonderland or Looking Glass film, I recognize that historically, most attempts at this noble feat have failed miserably. In the meantime, I approach movies like this latest effort with the attitude of, “Oh, cool. Let’s see what Alice is up to now!” I urge my fellow literary Wonderland fans to do the same because otherwise it is going to drive you absolutely insane that the Red Queen and Queen of Hearts have been combined, Wonderland characters are hanging out in Looking-Glass Land, Hatter and Alice seem to have a little something romantical going on, etc etc.
I am happy to report that, despite the almost complete lack of anything Lewis Carroll-like in the story, there are some facets to the movie that will make fans of the books light up with recognition. Specifically:
- When Alice first goes through the looking glass, the clock on the mantelpiece grins!
- We find out why the Queen of Hearts hates white roses.
- March Hare sees someone approaching the tea table and yells, “No room!!!!”
- Time is a character. Finally!
- There is a scene that consists almost entirely of puns.
- Hatter says some things that are very similar in theme to the ending of the book, regarding who is dreaming what, and what is really reality.
- Two words: Cheshire Kitty.
(That last one doesn’t actually have anything to do with the books, he was just adorable.)
I was downright excited to hear that Time was a living, breathing character in this film, because that is something from the book that has been completely ignored by prior movie adaptations. And I was not let down, as Time turned out to be a major character. He even sentenced Hatter and friends to endless tea time, just like in the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! (Well, he sentenced them to an eternity of one minute before teatime, close enough!) Sacha Baron Cohen as Time was one of the highlights of the film, despite the fact that he sported hipster mutton chops and a man bun and looked like he should be riding a giant old timey bicycle through Brooklyn.* A sequence in which Time pulls a pocket watch out of the air in order to snuff out someone’s life was both clever and gorgeous to look at.
Mia Wasikowska as Alice was solid. Everyone else was toys-in-the-attic crazy, but that’s how it should be. I personally am not crazy about Johnny Depp’s fey interpretation of Hatter, but I seemed to be in the minority in my packed theater- every woman around me giggled with delight at nearly everything he said. I can’t tell you what the men did, because I don’t think there were any men in my theater. Seriously.
So what was the movie actually about? I dunno, Alice had some real world trouble and escaped to Underland once again, she had to do some time travel to help out the Hatter, everybody learned a little something at the end. It was easy to follow, and it wrapped up nicely. While it was far from a masterpiece, I am perplexed as to why so many critics are completely slamming it. In a world of endless Transformers sequels and Taken 3, Alice Through The Looking Glass is a fairly entertaining, harmless lark. I actually liked it quite a bit better than the 2010 Alice in Wonderland film, to which it is a sequel.
One final note that frankly very few of you will appreciate…there is a fellow in the film (back in the real world, not in Underland) who obviously likes Alice and admires her chutzpah. When a character spoke his name “Mr. Harcourt” my heart totally skipped a beat. I thought, “Oh my gosh, that is the real Alice Liddell’s husband’s name! How cool!” Then I remembered the real life Alice Liddell’s married name was Hargreaves, not Harcourt. That had to be intentional, right? It can’t be a coincidence that her love interest’s name in the film is so close to the real-life Alice’s husband’s name? But then why not just go all the way and name him Mr. Hargreaves? I can’t figure it out.
What did you think? Agree with my Alice Through The Looking Glass review? Vehemently disagree? Let me know in the comments!
* This old timey bicycle analogy came to me out of the blue, similar to when Paul McCartney woke up one morning with Yesterday playing through his head. Like Paul McCartney, I’m worried I stole it. Did a real actual critic describe Sacha Baron Cohen similarly? I hope not.