1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews #13 - Alice in Wonderland

Friday, January 3, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #13 - Alice in Wonderland

Disney Movie Review: 13/53 - Alice in Wonderland

Ryan Dosier - Today’s film is Alice in Wonderland (1951), Walt Disney’s crazy and colorful animated feat. With Alice in Wonderland, Walt Disney stretched the talents of his animators, designers, and artists to crazy heights. The designs of the characters, the layouts, and everything else are outlandish and wacky and explode onto the screen—probably as Lewis Carroll would have wanted. The colors in this film are strikingly vibrant and bountiful. Each character uses a different palette and stands out on the screen.

But what Alice excels at in design it stumbles mightily in story. Everything in the film is insane and the plot points are more episodic than they are connected. There are out-of-the-blue jaunts with dodo birds, a bafflingly random story of a walrus and a carpenter, and a long song with crabby flowers. These work against the plot in many ways, and characters such as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum along with the White Rabbit just don’t stick as well as they should.

Of course, being Disney, there are some characters that are wonderful. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare are my two favorites. Ed Wynn voices the delightfully batty Hatter with stellar animation from my favorite Disney animator, Ward Kimball. His dialogue and delivery are the film’s best by far and is one of Disney’s craziest and most delightful characters. The domineering Queen of Hearts is also spectacular, and so is the Cheshire Cat. There’s a reason these three characters are the best known in the film.

But the unfortunate thing about Alice in Wonderland is that when characters stand out so well, they disappear almost right away. The Mad Hatter only has one really great scene and appears briefly at the end. The film doesn’t bring out enough enjoyable characters like the Hatter to justify not seeing the good ones long enough.

And yet there truly is a sense of wonder in Alice in Wonderland. It is a joyful, impressive romp through Lewis Carroll’s world that only Disney could deliver. Even young Alice, the unassuming and baffled protagonist, is an enjoyable character. She’s curious and charming as the one pillar of sanity amongst these outrageous characters.

I found myself enjoying Alice in Wonderland on this viewing more than I ever had before. The story still suffers completely and misses some of the charm and delight of other Disney classics, but the handful of electrifying characters makes Alice in Wonderland a fun viewing experience and a great entry in the Disney canon.

3/5 Unbirthdays

The Mickey Mindset, mickeymindset@gmail.com

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