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Parents' Guide to

Alice in Wonderland (1983)

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Star-studded stage musical harder for young kids to follow.

Movie NR 2001 90 minutes
Alice in Wonderland (1983) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 18+

Briliant, but I don't think they had children in mind

I'm writing as someone who saw this repeatedly as a 7 year old in 1984. It was one of the first VCR tapes we owned. My father got it for me but did not bother to see it for himself and so he did not know how strange it would be for kids. After seeing this again today and as a mother of two (ages 3 and 5), I see that while it is a brilliant production with an awesome cast, I doubt it was made with a children audience in mind. There are some disturbing elements involved such as the Duchess holding, dropping and beating her baby, who eventually turns into a pig. If your child must see this, then please try to be in the room with them so that it can be talked about and the child isn't left to fend for themselves trying to make sense of all the nonsense that is in Wonderland, especially this one.
age 8+
This version of Alice is more for the adults, I don't think children will be able to appreciate and it may not be completely appropriate for all children.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This is a fine introduction to stage musicals, though there's always something missing when a theatrical production is adapted for television. The theater stars in this 1983 PBS Great Performances' production (a recorded-for-TV version of the 1982 Broadway revival) are undeniable masters of their craft -- from Burton Sr. and Maureen Stapleton (the White Queen) to Colleen Dewhurst (Red Queen) and the great Donald O'Connor (Humpty Dumpty) to a much younger Nathan Lane (Mouse) -- and the black-and-white set design is surprisingly faithful to the illustrations in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Although the singing and dancing is obviously stellar, the actual musical numbers themselves are kind of underwhelming.

As Alice, Burton (who is Richard's daughter and best known to contemporary audience as Meredith Grey's mother Ellis in Grey's Anatomy), is appropriately awed but unintimidated by everyone she meets (even while the Queen of Hearts is snapping "Off with their heads!"). She's not an actress known for playing wide-eyed ingenues, preferring strong and successful women in her roles, so it was a bit of hard sell at first to see her as Alice. As the musical continues, however, Burton grows on you. She had excellent rapport with all the actors, although understandably the parts with her father as the White Knight are the best.

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