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Parents' Guide to

Phoebe in Wonderland

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Touching, at times intense drama teaches tolerance, empathy.

Movie PG-13 2009 96 minutes
Phoebe in Wonderland Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 8 parent reviews

age 10+

i have OCD so i know what its like

for Phoebe to go threw that I know what its like . a good movie no your not alone with a mental disorder.

This title has:

Great messages
age 14+

a mile in others shoes

Although my daughter is not quite ready for this (i agree with the sites reviews that although it focuses around children it is not a children movie) It is very well done. Show you the world through the eyes of a young girl with Torrets syndrome. Great for parents whos children may suffer from social challenge disorders such as ADHD, Torrets, or Asperger's. Also great for older siblings of children with these types of challenges.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (8 ):
Kids say (10 ):

Visually appealing and full of surprises, PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND takes audiences on a fanciful journey into a strange world spun by a complicated child. And what a vivid place it is! Writer-director Daniel Barnz paints a colorful, whimsical universe for Phoebe -- one worthy of Alice herself. But it's also moody and foreboding, where life requires running hard just to stay in place, where familiar behaviors both soothe and torment, and where your own skin doesn't feel so good to live in. The grown-ups don't appear to have the answers, either, except perhaps to brand Phoebe as eccentric or problematic.

Barnz keeps the feel kinetic and highly stylized with quick cuts and costumed characters. Everything is made to feel allegorical: Clarkson's Miss Dodger, Scott's principal, and even Phoebe's classmates are all rendered left of center. It's all well and good -- except for the fact that it somewhat misrepresents the film. Viewers expect an oddball denouement, or maybe even a creepy one. But that's not what they get. For what ails Phoebe isn't some mystery or eccentricity; it's something very real and heartbreaking. And when it's revealed, all that fantasy seems unnecessary. The film already does a great job exploring the isolated -- and isolating -- corners of parenting, and it doesn't really need all that whimsy to make its point. With fewer fantastical bells and whistles, PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND wouldn't have been as look-at-me dazzling. But it would have been far more powerful.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: March 6, 2009
  • On DVD or streaming: June 23, 2009
  • Cast: Elle Fanning , Felicity Huffman , Patricia Clarkson
  • Director: Daniel Barnz
  • Inclusion Information: Queer directors, Female actors
  • Studio: THINKFilm
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 96 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: thematic material and brief strong language
  • Last updated: February 25, 2022

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