A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Exposes kids to theater/stage productions.
Resilience in the face of the unknown.
Positive Role Models
Alice is quite resilient and fearless in this story. Despite meeting some frightening and creepy individuals and creatures, she keeps her chin up and continues on her journey.
Violence & Scariness
The Queen of Hearts is clearly bloodthirsty and keeps sentencing people to have their heads cut off. She even has a show trial for someone accused of stealing tarts, but she really just wants him executed. The scene with the Duchess and the crying baby might frighten young children.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In the framing device, Kate Burton the actress (not Alice!) is shown smoking a cigarette, and later in the production, the Caterpillar smokes a hookah, but that is as Lewis Carroll wrote the character.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this filmed Broadway musical production is quite literary in its adaptation, making it simultaneously more faithful to the original Lewis Carroll works, but also considerably more difficult for young children to follow. Because of some of the sophisticated wordplay and the two smoking characters, not to mention the show trial for the Knave of Hearts and the Queen of Hearts' prediliction for sentencing people to death, this particular adaptation is best sutied for older elementary-aged kids and teens who are already familiar with Alice's adventures. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.