Phoebe in Wonderland

Phoebe in Wonderland.

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

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


The film tells a story of a 9 year old girl, Phoebe (Elle Fanning), with apparent Tourette syndrome.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.


  • Elle Fanning as Phoebe Lichten, a girl with tourette syndrome.
  • Felicity Huffman as Hillary Lichten, Phoebe's mother. Afraid of Phoebe's actions and diagnosis until the end of the film. Huffman also appears as the Red Queen in Phoebe's fantasy scenes.
  • Patricia Clarkson as Miss Dodger, the drama teacher at Phoebe's school.
  • Bill Pullman as Peter Lichten, Phoebe's father. Pullman also appears as the Queen of Hearts in Phoebe's fantasy scenes.
  • Bailee Madison as Olivia Lichten, Phoebe's younger sister. Close at first, the sisters draw apart as Phoebe's symptoms progress.
  • Campbell Scott as Principal Davis, the head of Phoebe's school. Does not understand either Phoebe or Miss Dodger. Scott also appears as the Mad Hatter in Phoebe's fantasy scenes.
  • Ian Coletti as Jamie Madison, Phoebe's only friend.
  • Peter Gerety as Dr. Miles, Phoebe's therapist. Later dismissed by Hillary. Gerety also appears as Humpty Dumpty in Phoebe's fantasy scenes.
  • Madhur Jaffrey as Miss Reiter, Phoebe's homeroom teacher. Jaffrey also appears as the Knave of Hearts in Phoebe's fantasy scenes.
  • Caitlin Sanchez as Monica, one of Phoebe's classmates. Plays the White Queen in the play at Phoebe's school.
  • Maddie Corman as First Teacher/White Rabbit
  • Max Baker as Second Teacher/King of Hearts


  • The film was submitted for the Sundance Film Festival of 2008.
  • This movie is Elle Fanning's first lead role in a feature film.
  • The first draft of the script was written a year before Fanning was born.
  • Shown at the RiverRun International Film Festival in 2008

Awards and nominations

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


Sequels A New Alice in the Old Wonderland - New Adventures of "Alice" - Alice Through the Needle's Eye - Automated Alice - Wonderland Revisited and the Games Alice Played There - Alice: Otherlands
Retellings Alice's Adventures in Wonderland retold in words of one syllable - Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland
Parodies The Westminster Alice - Clara in Blunderland - Lost in Blunderland - John Bull's Adventures in the Fiscal Wonderland - Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream
Imitations Mopsa the Fairy - Davy and the Goblin - The Admiral's Caravan - Gladys in Grammarland - A New Wonderland - Rollo in Emblemland - Justnowland - Alice in Orchestralia
Reimagining Alice or the Last Escapade - Adventures in Wonderland - The Looking Glass Wars - Alice (miniseries) - Malice in Wonderland (2009) - Alice in Wonderland (2010 film) - Alice in Wonderland: The Vampire Slayer - Alice Through the Looking Glass (film)
Films Alice in Wonderland (1903 film) - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1910 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1915 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1931 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1933 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1949 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1951 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1966 TV play) - Alice in Wonderland or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1976 film) - Alice (1982 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1983 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1985 film) - Alice Through the Looking Glass (1987 film) - Alice (1988 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1988 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1995 film) - Alice in Wonderland (1999 film)
Stage Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (ballet) - Alice in Wonderland (musical) - Alice in Wonderland (opera) - Peter and Alice -
Television Fushigi no Kuni no Alice - Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Literary Alice in the Country of Hearts - Miyuki-chan in Wonderland
Video games Alice in Wonderland (1985 video game) - Märchen Maze - Wonderland (video game) - Alice: An Interactive Museum - Alice no Paint Adventure - Alice in Wonderland (2000 video game) - American McGee's Alice - Alice in Wonderland (2010 video game) - Alice: Madness Returns
Audio dramas Legend of the Cybermen

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