PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND

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Posted June 18, 2009 in The Small Screen

Phoebe in Wonderland is a fine movie, which unfortunately was given the “we don’t know what to do with this” treatment in its theatrical release. After all, it doesn’t really hit the studios’ favorite marketing quadrants (i.e. men under 25). Ostensibly from the point of view of Phoebe (played with disturbing truth by Elle Fanning), a young girl whose increasing flights of fancy may or may not be healthy for her . . .  it’s not really for kids. As Phoebe goes through rehearsals for the school play of Alice in Wonderland, it becomes clear that it’s also about Phoebe’s mom (Felicity Huffman) who put her own writing career on hold while raising children, and Phoebe’s dad (Bill Pullman) who struggles to get his own writing done and let his wife work, and Phoebe’s drama teacher (Patricia Clarkson), and how they all deal with “difficult” Phoebe. The movie does a great job capturing the confusion and uncertainty that comes with raising a child, difficult or otherwise. Are you overreacting or under reacting to any given problem? Should you be firmer or more understanding when something goes wrong? And that doesn’t even take into account personal disappointments with yourself (beyond your parenting skills) and your own hopes and dreams. It’s a shame that such a well-made movie, with such a group of talented actors and an excellent story can’t find an audience merely because it doesn’t fall into a tidy marketing category.

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