Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Ultimate Disney List: "Alice in Wonderland (1951)"

"'Tis brilling!"

Through the Reviewing Glass

      The Ultimate Disney List kicks off today with 1951's Alice in Wonderland, the 13th Disney Animated Classic and an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic story. Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske and written by, here we go, Winston Hibler, Ted Sears, Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Milt Banta, William Cottrell, Dick Kelsey, Joe Grant, Dick Huemer, Del Connell, Tom Oreb and John Walbridge and follows Alice (Kathryn Beaumont) as she chases the White Rabbit (Bill Thompson) into Wonderland, a strange place filled with strange people. Through her journey, she meets the Mad Hatter (Ed Wynn), the Caterpillar (Richard Haydn), the Cheshire Cat (Sterling Holloway) and the Queen of Hearts (Verna Felton). Though, I do use the word "story" loosely.

They're all so monsterific. Awww.
What Are the Odds

      Yeah, to be honest, I have to admit that I might have been predisposed to not like this movie. Don't get me wrong, this movie isn't bad. But, I really don't like the Alice in Wonderland story. I don't think I've ever liked anything that used it. This movie, that Once Upon a Time spin-off (And I really like Once Upon a Time) and that... other Disney movie, which trust me we'll get too. I just don't like the story. It's just too... weird. And I know that that's the entire point of the damn story. But I just can't get invested in the story. The weirdness is for weirdness sake and I just find myself lost in the strangeness of the story. I mean, there are things to like in this adaptation. Alice is great. Beaumont plays her very well, believable as a little girl, but also capturing that stubborn bravely that little kids have. And the animation is just beautiful. It is so well done and Wonderland is an absolute treat to look at, as it should be. The colors are vibrant and characters are all weird and interesting. And unfortunately, that's about where I lost interest.

As Mad As a Hatter

      I was just not interested in what was happening in this film outside of Alice and the animation. The side characters aren't really characters as much as they are just a different type of weirdness in what is essentially a road movie. And again, I get that that is the point. But the characters are so strange and the story so tough to fully understand that I just let the visuals wash over me. Which is fine, but when the movie ended, I really couldn't remember what happened or why I was supposed to care. And there were also some technical problems too. The songs just aren't that good. I couldn't understand half of them and the others were just kinda bland and forgettable. In fact, that's really the movie's whole problem. Maybe it is a great adaptation of the Alice in Wonderland story. But for me, if the original story was so forgettable, and this one is a good adaptation of that, then once again, this version is a forgettable one. 

I tried really hard to remember the lyrics to this song.
I couldn't.
The Verdict

      Look, I do get that I might not be giving this movie the fairest chance, but you really can't go into a movie without some baggage and for me, this one has a lot. I honestly just don't like the Alice in Wonderland story, and as much as I liked Alice and the animation, I thought that this adaptation was just as strange and forgettable as the original story, to me at least. I mean, it could be worse. At least it's not a truly awful film in every way. Unlike that other version. Alice in Wonderland (1951) gets 3 and a half stars out of 6. 

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