The Mad Hatter: “Have I gone mad?”

Alice: “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

This isn’t your father’s Alice in Wonderland. That Alice was much muchier — and slightly more curious. This Alice is older, been there, done that, and has the real-world baggage of lost parents, arranged marriages, brushes with adultery and digestive disorders. Polite society? A bunch of codfish.

And then there is the violence: the frumious Bandersnatch, the dragonesque Jabberwocky and so many off with their heads! There is darkness, spit and sometimes blood.

It is fantastic.

I’ll confess that up until this weekend I had no desire to see Disney’s new version of Alice in Wonderland. Sure, I like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, but I wasn’t really feeling it. In a nutshell, it didn’t look like they were offering anything new.
Then I read a review where a critic bashed the movie due to its darker, more graphic tone and said it wasn’t for kids and that parents shouldn’t take theirs to see it. I read this as don’t let your kids think for themselves or use their imagination. It didn’t sit well. Therefore, I quickly packed my little boys in the car and drove to the cinema. More or less. First I had to convince them that the movie wasn’t too scary. Apparently they had seen the same review.

We watched some clips on YouTube and discussed the obvious, that fiction is fake and that in matters of movies the good guys always win. They entered the theater knowing full well that it was okay to close their eyes should any of it seem too real.

Their eyes were wide open for the entire film.

That isn’t to say that the parts mentioned aren’t scary, they are. However, they’re scary like a Disney movie should be scary. Scary like Snow White was scary. Scary like Sleeping Beauty was scary. There’s something to be said for a good scare in a controlled environment. Lewis Carroll knew it. Walt Disney knew it. Tim Burton knows it.

And then there are the things that we will never know, like how a raven is like a writing desk.

Alice in Wonderland is pure adventure, visually stunning and whimsical fun. It is about the status quo and the knocking of it. It is about finding one’s self, doing the right thing and being late for tea.

It’s what happens between hardly and almost.

Alice: “This is impossible.”

The Mad Hatter: “Only if you believe it is.”

Sometimes the best thing to happen to someone is a long fall down a rabbit hole.