Aaaaaaand I'm over it. Thank you, short attention span! Tonight I watched a weird little movie called Malice in Wonderland that popped up in my "Hey maybe you might like this thing because, I dunno, you like things, right?" section of Netflix.
Cynic Tip: DO NOT SEARCH FOR THIS ON YOUTUBE! There is apparently another film called Malice In Wonderland, it's from the eighties and is freaky-ass animated porn. Be afraid.
This Malice In Wonderland instead attempts to mash the old story of the titular Alice with a modern tale of sordid Londoners, drugs, sex and gangsters. It goes about as well as could be expected. The movie kicks off with Maggie Grace as our blonde heroine, an American running around London like a crazy person evading two random dudes and briefly interacting with a nutty hobo woman who I'm sure totally won't be massively significant to the plot later on. Frggin magic hobos.
So after Alice communes with her homeless friend, she runs into the street and, as most people would, gets partially flattened by a taxi cab. Thankfully, she's fine, just stricken with a touch of convenient movie amnesia, which leads to her being bundled into the cab by the driver, a twitchy guy named Whitey played by Danny Dyer, who, based on the fact that he has a watch on each wrist and won't shut his Cockney face about the time, is the White Rabbit of this version. But I'm not being fair, Whitey is kind of adorable and sweet in a low-rent criminal way and ended up being my favorite character by far. He promises to bring Alice back where she belongs, except she doesn't even remember her name at this point, and also Whitey is too distracted by driving around the criminal underground "wonderland" trying to find the perfect gift for mob boss Harry Hunt's "released from prison party" Harry Hunt is, in this case, the Red Queen, exemplified by the fact that he is a violent killer, and also gay as can be.
So Alice is basically bounced around this gangsters and thugs version of Wonderland that, while containing bits and things that cannot exist in our world, never pretends at being otherworldly, which is interesting, especially in how characters are translated: The Mad Hatter becomes Hattie, owner of a "mobile brothel" and when Alice steals her tarts, in this case it means she hijacks a truck full of hookers. Classay. Meanwhile the Catepillar is a crazy rasta druggie who only speaks in rhyme and has one of the trippier/filler moments of the film, a black dude with an incredibly cool voice as a magical mind DJ (I'm serious) as the Cheshire cat and in the middle of it all, young Alice, trying to unravel who the hell she is and why she was gallivanting around London in the first place.
So ultimately it's a crazy, surreal dark mess. The good points: Alice's acting actually does improve as the film goes on (go figure) her character also becomes more dynamic and interesting. The moments between Whitey and Alice also feel genuine and cute, which is important because a good chunk of the ending depends on that chemistry. Considering the low budget, the visuals are surprisingly engaging and inventive and the characters are all quirky and memorable. It's definitely the most original take I've seen on Alice in Wonderland, even if the ending is kind of random and flees from the general storyline.
But honestly, for all it's flaws and scenes that go nowhere, this entertained more than Tim Burton's version. Like, a lot more. And that has to count for something, right?
Malice In Wonderland nets itself a surprising three catapults out five. Because their Mad Hatter may have been a hooker, but at least she wasn't a break-dancing pedo-clown.
This is Sugary Cynic, hoping there's wi-fi down the rabbit hole. 'Night!
Whitey: "What do I get a man who can rob anything?"
Alice: "What about a cake?"
Whitey: "Who gets a mobster a cake?"
Alice: "...Someone who cares?"