The final 10 minutes will frustrate but the opening 86 will dazzle. Phoebe in Wonderland, released to theaters on March 6th, is an enchanting tale of a family struggling with a difficult 9 year old girl (beautifully played by Elle Fanning - Dakota's kid sis).
Patricia Clarkson (The Station Agent, Lars and the Real Girl) is the most under appreciated great actress working today and steals every scene she's in. Clarkson is cast as the left-of-center drama teacher at Phoebe's school. As the film progresses we see her as the grown-up version of the title character.
Phoebe in Wonderland is a delicate, darling of a film that I recommend for any parent who, like me, longs for their children to be truly unique individuals. Mature tweens (10-13) should also be allowed to see this one. While the emotional swings of Phoebe and the usually-kept-from-kids parental exchanges could alarm, the overall message of the film, if discussed afterwards, may be very rewarding.
There's one scene in particular that captures, with a raw honesty rarely found in Hollywood films, just how maddening the business of parenting can be at times. Phoebe's mom, played magnificently by Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), is out in the yard. She's aggressively and haphazardly tossing leaves around with a rake, working out of anger not to produce a tidy lawn. She confesses to her husband (Bill Pullman) all the things that make her mad as a mother trying to figure out how to play the unique cards dealt her. The scene is brilliantly scripted and filmed. It'll touch a nerve with any involved mom or dad.
If you have children, and considering that you're reading OWTK you probably do, you should go see Phoebe in Wonderland. The film gets wrapped up a bit too neatly, but the path it takes to get there is a thing of beauty.
Check to see where Phoebe in Wonderland is playing near you.