Phoebe in Wonderland
Rated PG13 rating: 13+

I was drawn to this movie because the cover art looks like a movie for a young person as does the theme of Wonderland. Yet, it is rated PG13. It turns out that this is not a kid’s movie at all. 11 year old Phoebe has a mental illness that has not been diagnosed. She is deeply tormented by not knowing what is wrong with her. She can’t stop shouting out mean things or spitting at other students. She compulsively counts things. And she sees and talks to the characters of Wonderland, asking them to help her, just like in the book. The only place she feels safe is when she is acting in the play as Alice in Alice in Wonderland. To make matters worse, her mother is in denial of her daughter’s illness, despite extremes such as Phoebe scratching herself until she bleeds. And her mother is working on her dissertation about the book Alice in Wonderland.

I noticed that there are two different posters for this movie. The first one has sweet Phoebe’s face replacing a petal in a sunflower. She is looking straight forward, as in cover art on books for younger children. In the next one, Phoebe is in the middle of her mother and her drama teacher, just as she is in the movie. She is looking off to the side. She looked this way often in the movie when she was confused by what was happening to her. This poster is much more representative of what is in the movie. I am reminded of the movie, Marley and Me, which was marketed as a sweet puppy movie. It was a sweet puppy movie until the puppy got cancer and died a slow, sad, painful death. Marketers’ job is to sell the movie to whoever will pay for it. It is worth the extra time it takes to read the reviews and consider the rating before subjecting kids to inappropriate subjects.