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Phoebe in Wonderland (2009)



Average Rating: 5.9/10
Reviews Counted: 51
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 21

Blessed with a good cast, Phoebe's heart is in the right place, but its execution is dicey.


Average Rating: 5.5/10
Critic Reviews: 20
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 9

Blessed with a good cast, Phoebe's heart is in the right place, but its execution is dicey.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 32,668

My Rating

Movie Info

Felicity Huffman, Elle Fanning, and Patricia Clarkson star in director/screenwriter Daniel Barnz's illuminating tale of parenting and growth concerning an exceptional young girl whose troubling retreat into fantasy draws the concern of both her dejected mother and her unusually perceptive drama teacher. Phoebe (Fanning) is a talented young student who longs to take part in the school production of Alice in Wonderland, but whose bizarre behavior sets her well apart from her carefree classmates.


Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Daniel Barnz

Jun 23, 2009

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All Critics (51) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (21) | DVD (2)

It needs the power of imagination to be done effectively and I just didn't think it was here.

March 9, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies | Comment (1)
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I thought this was delightful, a little depressing at times but with three stellar performances from Fanning, Huffman, and Patricia Clarkson.

March 9, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's a lot more perspiration than inspiration.

March 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Elle Fanning is] an astonishingly natural and unmannered actress who carries this rather ungainly movie on her narrow shoulders.

March 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Slate | Comment (1)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Barnz has made a poignant family movie that, despite its thematic material and brief profanity, is appropriate for mature 10-year-olds and older.

March 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Let Clarkson and Fanning take you to the rabbit hole of seductive enchantment that defines this movie.

March 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An interesting look at a little girl's struggle to control her disease.

December 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight | Comment (1)
Cinema Sight

The whimsical and outlandish flights of fantasy are what initially grab the attention, but the greatest virtues are the authentic performances by the cast.

September 7, 2009 Full Review Source:

Believable and engaging, Fanning nearly renders the ensuing bore watchable

July 16, 2009 Full Review Source:

An off-putting, misguided disease-of-the-week picture that tries to disguise itself as something else before finally coming clean.

June 25, 2009 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Comment (1)
Combustible Celluloid

[The movie] resists being pigeonholed or easily labeled -- because, like Phoebe herself, the movie is brilliant and a little strange and wonderfully unique.

April 24, 2009
Salt Lake Tribune

Ultimately, watching the film becomes a frustrating and annoying experience.

April 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Movies featuring exceptional young actresses have always been near and dear to my heart. Elizabeth Taylor, Tatum O'Neal, Anna Paquin ------ to mention a few ----- are particular favorites of mine. Now I must add Elle Fanning to that list.

March 10, 2009 Full Review
Kaplan vs. Kaplan

"Phoebe in Wonderland" gradually morphs into a psychological drama of deep intensity, with an astounding performance by Fanning.

March 10, 2009 Full Review
Kaplan vs. Kaplan

Elle Fanning, the ten-year-old sister of Dakota, can act like nobody's business, and it is her remarkable ability that carries an otherwise artistic mess of a movie.

March 9, 2009 Full Review Source:

It's 'Fanning'tastic!

March 9, 2009 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

Though Phoebe is nearly too dark for children and nearly too simple for adults, it succeeds as a swirling reminder of what it felt like to get lost in imagination

March 9, 2009 Full Review Source: I.E. Weekly
I.E. Weekly

Phoebe in Wonderland has strong, well-nuanced performances and occasionally moving scenes, but often feels pretentious, uneven and slightly vapid.

March 8, 2009 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

Despite slow pacing and stretches of clunky dialogue, it is visually imaginative, frank and sensitive as it avoids being another tearjerker about children who are different.

March 8, 2009 Full Review Source:

A small movie in size, but large in heart and enthusiasm. Global warming be damned, Elle Fanning's smile alone could melt the polar ice caps.

March 6, 2009 Full Review Source:

The taxing whimsy of Phoebe in Wonderland proves more grating than poignantly escapist.

March 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Visuals aside, what drags Phoebe in Wonderland along is Fanning's performance, but the rest of the film never rises up to the level of her simple moments counting steps or explaining that she has to wash her hands a certain number of times.

March 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Audience Reviews for Phoebe in Wonderland

The film's strength lies in its candid portrayal of a young girl afflicted and in Elle Fanning's Phoebe. Full review later.
November 14, 2013
Thomas Bowler

Super Reviewer

"Elle Fanning is every bit as talented as her older sister Dakota. She gives a great performance in Phoebe in Wonderland.
Phoebe is a young girl suffering from OCD and Tourrettes syndrome. But it takes awhile for her to be diagnosed. I thought the parents to be in complete denial and putting blame on everyone but themselves, even though there is no one to be blamed.
The performances is what really brings this film together. I loved Patricia Clarkson in the film as well as Elle Fanning. They both stood out for me and made the film."
September 24, 2012

Super Reviewer

A troubled ten-year-old gets cast as Alice in the school play version of Alice in Wonderland and copes with the pressures of growing up different than her peers.
Stellar performances by everyone in the cast carry this film. Elle Fanning has all the natural charm her sister has and is equally wise beyond her years. Felicity Huffman and Patricia Clarkson are also quite good, and Bill Pullman has moments of emotional expression that are rare for him.
I liked that that film took its characters seriously and that this didn't attempt to be a contemporary re-telling of Alice in Wonderland. Rather, the film is about a child coping with what could be either eccentricity or mental illness, and for the characters in the film, the line between those two conditions is as fluid as it should be in real life. Aside from the principal, there isn't a villain (even the principal is more of a weak douche than a true villain), just people of different perspectives trying to resolve the Phoebe's problems.
I didn't like the ending, and I thought that Phoebe's antics occasionally got petulant, making her character less identifiable.
Overall, Phoebe in Wonderland is a strong, sensitive drama about growing up different with just the right touch of Lewis Carroll whimsy.
June 5, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

This is NOT a childrens' movies. Don't go to Red-Box see the cover and think "O how sweet! A new Alice in Wonderland with Dakota Fannings' little sister!" That is a falsehood! Bad adevertising. Let me tell you what this movie is actually about. Phoepe (fanning) Has always had trouble following the rules and was always told by her mother that being different is a good thing. As she enters 3rd grade (i think) she finds following the rules harder than usual. Spitting on her classmates and yelling out whatever she thinks. He Mother (Huffman) is attempting to write a book on Lewis Carol and his infamous book, but finds starting the book hard while dealing with two extremely immaginatve young girls and an unsupporting husband. Phoebe finds refuge in her class play Alice in Wonderland where she is cast in the title role. She befriends her director, wonderfully played by Patricia Clarkson. But as her parents push her farther into therapy and trying to understand their daughters unruliness, Phoebe goes further down the rabbit whole and further away from reality. This is definitely a PARENTS movie. I really enjoyed it. The performances are raw and believable. A bit long but it had good closure to the ending.
January 8, 2011
Morgan Salem

Super Reviewer

    1. Phoebe: I can see myself wrecking and ruining, but can't stop myself.
    – Submitted by Michaela C (3 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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