Mixed or average reviews - based on 20 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 15 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Phoebe in Wonderland, which recently had its world premiere at Sundance 2008 and is based on Daniel Barnz’s original screenplay, concerns a young girl who longs to be in her school’s production of "Alice in Wonderland." After being cast in the lead role of Alice by her eccentric drama teacher, Phoebe reveals a unique talent but, much like Alice herself, is increasingly at odds with the world around her and begins to retreat into a world of her imagination. Though her parents initially see their daughter’s unusual behavior as signs of creativity, they gradually realize that Phoebe is at risk of falling “through the looking glass.” (THINKFilm) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. 88
    Phoebe in Wonderland happens to be at least partly a Lifetime movie, but this special little film is no disease-of-the-week tear-jerker.
  2. It's a delicate, intelligent movie about modern parenthood and the pressures that children face, and it features a cast of talented actors who were clearly committed to the movie's message.
  3. 75
    Let Clarkson and Fanning take you to the rabbit hole of seductive enchantment that defines this movie. And don't ask what to do -- jump.
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Phoebe in Wonderland gradually loses its grip on tone and believability, climaxing with a show-must-go-on moment that's just plain silly. Thankfully, Barnz knows exactly where to end his film: on the face of a girl, and an actress, at the crossroads.
  5. As the school drama teacher who tries to unlock ''the real,'' Patricia Clarkson makes high theatrical solemnity funny.
  6. So much of this irritating film from first-time writer-director Daniel Barnz feels like a writing exercise it's amazing Elle Fanning, in the title role, comes off as well as she does.
  7. Soon after that the movie simply stops dead in its tracks, as though the money had run out and the project had been called off in the middle of a scene that makes no psychological or dramatic sense. It leaves you frustrated and annoyed.

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Feb 25, 2014
    Seriously one of my favorite films of all time. Patricia Clarkson and Elle Fanning are amazing on they're own, and together they're unstoppable. Great acting, great plot, great message, great film Expand
  2. SebastianH.
    Feb 24, 2009
    The subject of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland have been explored many times. This, for me, is the best film I've ever seen revolved around the Wonderland universe. The fact that the writing manages to take something that could easily be funny (such as calling a stranger fat) and making it into a very serious and unfunny moment, yet still retaining it's innocence, is astonishing. Despite all the things wrong with Phoebe, and her sadness throughout the film, I did not feel pity for her, I just simply watched this little girl struggle with her emotions and OCD, then see her shine in front of the drama class. Her over looked friend Jamie is also a very important counter piece to Phoebe. While Phoebe dislikes her uniqueness, and wants to be accepted, Jamie is the exact opposite. He is comfortable with his sexuality and isn't afraid of what the other kids think of him. His bravery to audition (and land) the role of the Red Queen shows bravery that most adults would not be able to overcome. Unfortunately the parents are the my least favorite part of the film. Although they are crucial, I just don't care for them. The mother seems to be obsessed, yet emotionally distant from her daughters, and the father might as well be invisible. However both of them do turn around in the end, and grow into actual caring parents. Now to another important character, the eccentric drama teacher. Towards the beginning she seemed a bit cliché, however her nurturing and quirky personality, really identified with Phoebe, and her methods of handling quarrels within the drama class were beautiful, caring, and truly worked. This all leads to the ultimate element that could make or break a film. The acting. Although the acting was superb as a whole, Elle Fanning really does carry this movie. For a child to pull off the complex emotions Phoebe was going through just goes to show the promise that Elle has. Expand
  3. JasmineR.
    Nov 30, 2008
    Intriguing, provocative, high quality character driven story!
  4. MarthaL.
    Mar 9, 2009
    I cried, I laughed, I empathized. What more could I hope for?
  5. SuzanneT.
    Feb 5, 2009
    Great little movie. Intelligent and beautifully acted.
  6. Jan 17, 2012
    Phoebe in Wonderland is sweet and surprisingly well acted, and it has a creative story at the heart of its heartfelt story. It overall succeeds but it doesn't lead up nearly to my expectations. I give this movie 64%. Expand
  7. JayH
    Jun 19, 2009
    Somber story, very well acted, especially by Elle Fanning. It's not a pleasant movie to view, but the production is professional. It's unique but curiously unmemorable, although it does have some painfully slow moving sections. Expand