5 Reasons to Watch: Phoebe in Wonderland

Phoebe in Wonderland, written and directed by Daniel Barnz, was released in 2008. I HIGHLY recommend this movie.

1. Visually beautiful

The entire film is shot beautifully, Phoebe’s costuming is wonderful, and the costumes from the children’s play are fantastic. Even more breathtaking are the scenes of Phoebe’s fantasies.

2. Parent-child relationships

This may not be the case for everyone who sees this film, but for me the relationship Phoebe’s parents have with her and her sister and their home life in general were an inspiration in some ways for what I’d like to be like when I become a parent (in the far-off future, mind you). Hillary and Peter are both intellectuals whose aspirations for incredible academic work often conflicts with their desires to be attentive parents. What I loved most is that they truly encouraged creativity and imagination in their daughters, along with truly wanting them to be individuals. I also really liked that parenthood is not portrayed as being easy or always fun. It’s clear that no parent is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, but these mistakes do not make someone a bad parent, only human.

3. Miss Dodger’s teaching philosophy

The drama teacher and one of the main characters in the film, Miss Dodger, has a teaching style I really appreciated and admired. She wants her students to think for themselves instead of just waiting to be told what to do by adults. This style really contradicts what the rest of her school is like in the film, along with how real schools are today. I thought her teaching practice was inspirational.

4. Phoebe’s rich fantasy life

Phoebe imagines interacting with characters from Alice in Wonderland. When you hear this or see it in the film, one of your reactions may be that Phoebe is possibly schizophrenic. I had this reaction at first until I remembered my own experience as a nine year old. I also had a world of imaginary friends and fantasies that slipped away as a grew into adolescence and adulthood. I challenge viewers to embrace Phoebe’s interactions with Wonderland characters in this film as an expression of her creative imagination rather than something that makes her abnormal.

5. Portrayal of children with psychological issues

I won’ t give away anything to spoil the movie, but it is clear from the beginning that Phoebe has some issues that make it difficult for her to function in everyday life. But instead of labeling her from the beginning or writing her off, this film takes an honest look at what it’s like to live with psychological problems as child or that child’s parent. The portrayal is moving and I really liked that instead of just writing Phoebe off as “crazy” or “weird,” this is a closer look at how special of a child she is, not in spite of her problems, but with them as a part of what makes her the wonderful person she is.


2 responses to “5 Reasons to Watch: Phoebe in Wonderland

  1. Katy – I have never even heard of this movie. But, once again, your beautiful writing has inspired me to ‘check it out’. Hope I can get it on Netflix! Thank you for taking the time to share your heart and such useful information through this blog. Keep ’em coming.

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