At one of the malls I like to visit is a place called Cali Juice that serves California-themed (it actually completely exists only in Ohio) smoothies, including The Rodeo Drive, which is very rich and thick concoction with peanut butter and bananas. I know it's not very nutritious but being in that mall makes me want one. And what happens every time I do order one is that I will enjoy the first half of the cup immensely, before I hit the point where the needle of my saccharometer breaks and I barely want to be near the stuff anymore. One can only have so much of a good thing, right?
Anyway, the point is that this describes the way I feel about Disney's (1951) Alice in Wonderland. Before I sit down to watch I expect to enjoy it, having already seen it a few times, thinking back to my favorite moments (anything with the Cheshire Cat, for example). Yes, there's barely a plot to speak of, but that's, you know, the point of it all. Wouldn't it sort of go against the nature of everything else in Wonderland if there was a rhyme or reason to what actually happens to Alice during her visit there? That was one of the things I didn't like about Tim Burton's version. It went about trying to make sense of and explain what she saw and who she met. When surrealism seems to be the very intention of something and there's no need to give it a backstory, why bother? I have the same complaint about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Wonka is much more fascinating when I'm not told why he acts like....oh, sorry. I've started reviewing other movies. Anyway...
I have fun seeing the first...oh, forty minutes or so? I love surrealism! But it's around the scene where Alice gets lost in the woods that I realize I've had my fill of silliness and get a bit antsy waiting for the ending. So it's not that the peanut-butter-and-banana-ness of it loses its quality at that time, just that I lose interest in that quality.
Though I'd read the books and seen this movie before what made it different this time around was that, now, in the context of having seen all of those packaged-short films in a row, Alice in Wonderland did give me package film vibes. If Alice wasn't there, couldn't "All in the Golden Afternoon" have been one of those musical shorts? And wouldn't the story of The Walrus and the Carpenter (who, by the way, I think looks more like a soda jerk than a carpenter) fit in as a Make Mine Music/Melody Time segment? Speaking of those which, isn't it interesting how different the popularity of characters is between, say, The Mad Hatter (who everyone always remembers and got starring status in That Other Movie and his own Once Upon a Time episode) and ... the Walrus and the Carpenter. I should make it a personal challenge to find any Disney merchandise featuring those "beloved" characters!
Favorite character: Okay, The Mad Hatter, but if only for his delivery of "Let'sth not be silly!" So, the Ed Wynn Mad Hatter specifically.
Least necessary character:As far as "evil" characters go, the Queen of Hearts transcends being scary and menacing and just being rather annoying. Also, I can't look at her without seeing the face of Fred Flintstone.
Overall: If you don't expect things like a plot and character development and all that jabberwocky, it's not impossible to accomplish watching this before breakfast.
(How smug am I allowed to be that I wrote that whole review without mentioning drugs?)
I never liked this film. There I said it. It has always been on the bottom of my most beloved film lists. As a child I was always terribly annoyed by the entire thing and I think as an adult I've figured out why.
Alice is annoying.
Alice is the embodiment of every vapid, character-free child who knows what they want thank you very much and no parent, sibling, teacher, or friend can possibly know better than him or herself. She's selfish. She wishes for silliness and hates it when it arrives. She wishes for talkative flowers and animals but when she encounters them is not-at-all amused. She wants to control the lives of everything around her and throws a crying tantrum when she doesn't immediately understand what's going on. She's only mildly amused during the tea party when she believes she's finally going to get something (namely gifts and cake) out of the whole situation only to walk off in a huff when it is not to be.
Also the plot is thin. Call me crazy, but I like a little plot in my story. Maybe it's fine for Mickey through the looking glass when you just want to watch a little zany action, but for more than an hour of entertainment, I need the story to take me somewhere.
Favorite character: Cheshire Cat if only because I'm constantly impressed with Sterling Holloway's distinctive voice and the ability he has to make it fit so perfectly into any situation.
Least Favorite Character: Alice for all the reasons listed above... and she's not even a good singer, dang it!
Overall: Take this movie in parts, but don't try to sit through all of it at once or you might go mad as a March Hare. Cheesey, but true.
Craft time! Since the Tea Party scene is generally considered the most entertaining scene, I made a little cozy to keep my tea warm in the cup. And as soon as I find my camera cord, you'll actually get to see it.