Phoebe in Wonderland

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Phoebe in Wonderland
Phoebe in Wonderland.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDaniel Barnz
Produced by
  • Ben Barnz
  • Lynette Howell
Written byDaniel Barnz
Music byChristophe Beck
CinematographyBobby Bukowski
Edited byRobert Hoffman
Distributed byThinkFilm
Release date
  • January 20, 2008 (2008-01-20) (Sundance)
  • March 6, 2009 (2009-03-06) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States

Phoebe in Wonderland is a 2008 American drama film directed by Daniel Barnz.

It was screened in the Dramatic Competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival,[1] and received a limited theatrical release on March 6, 2009.


A 9-year-old girl, Phoebe (Elle Fanning), has apparent Tourette syndrome.[2] While she deals with being odd and insecure, her mother (Felicity Huffman) and father (Bill Pullman) are dealing with complexities in their relationship with each other and their challenging child. Her younger sister (Bailee Madison) feels neglected as Phoebe gains more attention.

Phoebe seeks a role in her school's play, Alice In Wonderland, directed by her school's off-beat drama teacher, Miss Dodger (Patricia Clarkson). Phoebe flourishes on stage, relaxing and feeling normal, but her impulsive speech and behavior persist off stage. Her parents hire a therapist for her, but after he proposes medication, Phoebe's mother fires him. She does not want to accept that there is anything wrong with Phoebe; when the principal questions if Phoebe behaves oddly outside of the classroom, her mother denies it even though she has many times witnessed her daughter's self-destructive rituals at home. When Phoebe is taken out of the play due to her classroom behavior, her dreams are shattered. Her mother, desperate to help her daughter feel normal, works with the drama teacher to bring Phoebe back on stage.

Although Phoebe is put back into the play, her challenges continue as she is driven to behavior she doesn't understand. She hurts herself jumping off the catwalk onto the stage, and the drama teacher is fired. Phoebe's fellow-actors descend into chaos, but Phoebe alone clings to a sense of purpose. She urges her classmates to continue their rehearsals on their own, and they do. Her mother, who has resisted efforts to label Phoebe, tells Phoebe that she has Tourette syndrome, and Phoebe helps her classmates understand her by explaining the condition to them.




Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 60% based on 53 reviews, with an average rating of 5.94/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Blessed with a good cast, Phoebe's heart is in the right place, but its execution is dicey."[3] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[4]

Awards and nominations[edit]

On January 14, 2010, the film was nominated for Outstanding Film – Wide Release – at the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.[5]


  1. ^ "2008 Sundance Film Festival Announces Films in Competition" (PDF). November 28, 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 25, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2008.
  2. ^ Griffin, Mark (April 24, 2008). "Phoebe in Wonderland". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  3. ^ "Phoebe in Wonderland (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  4. ^ "Phoebe in Wonderland Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  5. ^ "21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards – English Language Nominees". Retrieved January 14, 2010.

External links[edit]