Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Alice in Wonderland (2010) Movie Poster Image
All-new 3-D Alice story is trippy and intense.
  • PG
  • 2010
  • 109 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 95 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 187 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The Red Queen's cruelty, jealousy, and insecurity end up costing her everything, proving that she's wrong when she asserts that it's "better to be feared than to be loved." Alice and her Underland friends are all loyal to each other and to the cause of overthrowing the evil Red Queen -- all are willing to make sacrifices to ensure that the Red Queen is defeated. Alice confirms the belief that to dream, to believe in the impossible, to believe in your own abilities and potential, is actually a very wise thing to do.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alice, like all heroes, must learn to believe in herself to finally defeat the Jabberwocky and save Underland from the tyranny of the Red Queen. She's an excellent example to young girls, because she doesn't follow her sister and mother's advice to rely on her looks to land a high-class husband. Instead, she trusts her instincts and confronts her fears to emerge a powerful champion, a courageous defeater of evil, a friend and ally to an entire world. And when she returns to regular London, she makes a decision that goes against cultural norms of her day, but that is ultimately much better for her future.

Violence

The Red Queen is quite bloodthirsty and frequently sentences people to death, yelling "Off with their heads!" She makes comments like "I love morning execution, don't you?" and sends scary creatures to do her bidding. A scary dog-like creature called the Bandersnatch suddenly attacks, chasing and pouncing on the Tweedle twins. Since these sequences are in 3-D, they're especially intense. There's a moat filled with cut-off heads and potions filled with severed fingers. People are scratched and nearly killed, an executioner is shown about to lower the axe on someone, and in the end, a creature is decaptitated.

Sex

Alice catches her brother-in-law kissing a woman who's not his wife; Alice and Hamish dance, and he proposes to her. The Knave of Hearts pushes an overgrown Alice against a wall and says he likes her, because he likes "largeness." The Red Queen acts smitten with the Knave of Hearts.

Language

Mild taunts and insults like "imbeciles," "idiots," "bloody" (in the British sense), "stupid," "big head," "lunatic," and "fat."

Consumerism

None in the movie, but like all Disney movies, there's plenty of related merchandise available.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Absalom the smoking caterpillar does just that -- smoke a hookah -- in three different scenes. The Red Queen and her court seem to drink something that looks like wine at a meal. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland might be rated PG, but it's pretty intense and scary at times for younger kids, especially because it's in 3-D. This trippy adaptation -- in which Alice is a young adult -- includes some fantasy violence with scary monsters that attack people, a cruel Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) who frequently sentences people to death, and a climactic battle scene between sword-brandishing humans, animals, and beasts. Some parents might want to know that a caterpillar (played by Alan Rickman) smokes a hookah, but this is as Lewis Carroll depicted the character. The language includes taunting insults like "stupid," "imbecile," "idiot," "bloody," and the like, and the sexuality is limited to one kiss between a married man and another woman and some aggressive flirting.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 and 15 year old Written bymommalaurie March 16, 2010

Just like the book, this movie is dark, strange, and wonderful!

I loved this movie! And if I had to choose who the director would be, Tim Burton is the only one that should have been on the list. The movie, just like the boo... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 year old Written byjaywdet March 7, 2010

7 year old:

Quote from my 7 year old boy: "I think Disney's Alice in Wonderland is WAY better." This movie frightened my 7 year old. This is a kid who be... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAlinaW. May 22, 2010

Weak-ish plot, but graphics make the movie!

I went to see Alice In Wonderland today, finally, and I'm kicking myself for not seeing it in 3D! It was clearly meant for 3D, and the animation would have... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old November 29, 2013

best movie

one of my favorite movies better than the original

What's the story?

As ALICE IN WONDERLAND opens, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is seven and a half and admits to her father that she thinks she's gone around the bend because she keeps dreaming about falling down a rabbit hole into another world. Thirteen years later, a now fatherless 19-year-old Alice finds herself being publicly proposed to until she excuses herself to run away and winds up following a rabbit -- you got it -- down a hole that leads to Underland, a magical place where she's asked again and again if she's THE Alice. Her new acquaintances, who include a white rabbit (voiced by Stephen Fry), a Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), a chain-smoking caterpillar (Alan Rickman), and roly poly twins Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (Matt Lucas), reveal that if she IS the "right" Alice, she's destined to slay the evil Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee), defeat the bloodthirsty, big-headed Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), and restore the peace-loving White Queen (Anne Hathaway) to power. To do the seemingly impossible, Alice must accept that Underland isn't a figment of her imagination and fulfill her destiny.

Is it any good?

While Lewis Carroll purists will scoff at the aging of his curious young protagonist, most movie audiences will enjoy this colorful world. Tim Burton's Alice doesn't have the wide-eyed wonder of the 7-year-old Alice, because well, she's a bit jaded and thinks her adventures in the offbeat land are just part of an elaborate dream from which she'll eventually awaken. Alice in Wonderland represents her second time to Underland ("Wonderland" is what her silly younger self apparently called it), but she can't remember her earlier adventure. The story does seem, as other critics have suggested, a bit too similar to the search for the One True Ring, but so what? A nearly 20-year-old doesn't need a chess game and nursery rhymes, she needs a purpose to propel her courage. So that's what screenwriter Linda Wolverton provided the older Alice -- a way to discover her true nature in a mad, mad world.

Wasikowska is a golden-haired vision (she looks like a young combination of Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow) of adolescent girl power. She doesn't need to be affianced to a stuffy, weak-chinned "Lord," and she's spectacularly brave while remaining a subtle, soft-spoken, self-assured young woman. What's so charming about the story is that Alice is like the wise caterpillar, about to transform into something else entirely. Even the cold-hearted Red Queen isn't purely evil. Her (literal) big-headedness has made her awfully insecure, and because of that she delights in inflicting pain on others. Bonham Carter is, as always, brilliant as the petty and jealous sovereign who really just wants to cuddle up with her head henchman Stayne (Crispin Glover, obviously delighting in playing the creep again). And then there's Depp, who at this point must share half a brain with Burton. His Hatter is bonkers all right, but he's also funny, self-sacrificial, and courageous. There's no one else who could've played the part, because Depp is a master at portraying loopy men you just can't help but love.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Alice's nonconformist attitude in Alice in Wonderland. How does she buck cultural expectations? In what ways does her adventure in "Underland" change Alice?

  • What do you think about Mr. Kingsleigh, and later Alice's adage that "all the best people" are a bit "mad"? What do you think the Mad Hatter means that things are only impossible if you believe them to be?

  • The Red Queen is cruel but sad. What are some reasons she's so mean? Are there compelling reasons to be angry at her younger sister, the White Queen?

  • Those familiar with the Lewis Carroll books: Compare this version with the original source and other adaptations. Do you like this Alice as a much older heroine?

  • How does Alice demonstrate courage in Alice in Wonderland? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

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