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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Disney's classic animated interpretation of Lewis Carroll's tale Alice in Wonderland is a great "starter" Alice for younger kids before moving on to more mature and theatrical versions, like Tim Burton’s trippy 2010 adventure. Disney's 7-year-old Alice embarks on a colorful journey that does include some mild violence (especially when she meets the sadistic Queen of Hearts) and taunting language like "stupidest" and "fat." Three animal characters smoke either a pipe or, in the case of the caterpillar, a hookah.
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What's the story?
ALICE IN WONDERLAND, the children's classic by Lewis Carroll about the girl who falls down a rabbit hole, is presented by Disney in this lively and tuneful version. Alice is reading with her sister when she sees a white rabbit, fully dressed, muttering about being late. She follows him down a rabbit hole to Wonderland, where she grows bigger and smaller, meets the Cheshire Cat, attends a mad tea party, talks to a caterpillar who puffs on a hookah, and triumphs over the Queen of Hearts, before finding that it was all a dream.
Is it any good?
Kids may enjoy the movie's silly characters, like the Mad Hatter and March Hare (especially the celebration of "unbirthdays"), and the tantrums of the despotic Queen of Hearts. Like another perennial favorite, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland is the story of a girl who thinks she wants to go somewhere exciting, but, once she gets there, spends the entire time trying to find her way home. Wonderland may be different and exciting, but its inhabitants are often rude and unfriendly, even hostile.
It's worth noting that Alice does just about everything we tell kids not to do, including going off with strangers and eating and drinking things that may be dangerous. She acknowledges her mistakes in a song that kids will relate to: "I Give Myself Very Good Advice (But I Very Seldom Follow It)."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dreamy world Alice finds herself in Alice in Wonderland. Which of these wild characters is your favorite? Why do they celebrate un-birthdays in Wonderland? Could you celebrate one right now? Why does Alice sing the song "I Give Myself Very Good Advice (But I Very Seldom Follow It)"? When did you give yourself good advice and not follow it?
Families can talk about how this original version differs from Time Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010) starring Johnny Depp, or how it differs from Lewis Carroll's original work.
- In theaters: July 28, 1951
- On DVD or streaming: July 4, 2000
- Cast: Ed Wynn, Kathryn Beaumont, Sterling Holloway
- Director: Clyde Geronimi
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters
- Character Strengths: Curiosity, Perseverance
- Run time: 75 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.