Alice Through the Looking Glass (1987)
Alice Through the Looking Glass is a 1987 made-for-television animated musical fantasy film produced by Burbank Film Australia. It's an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass. It was co-produced and written by television veteran Jameson Brewer, and stars the likes of Janet Waldo as Alice, Townsend Coleman as Tom Fool, Mr. T, Jonathan Winters and Phyllis Diller. An unrelated film adaptation of Carroll's Alice in Wonderland was produced in-house by Burbank, the following year.
This film serves as Brewer's last writing and producing credit on an animated production, prior to his death on September 11, 2003.
On a stormy day, a bored Alice discovers that the full-length mirror in her room is magical. Upon passing through it to an alternate world, she's greeted by a jester named Tom Fool. In a quest for Alice to become a queen, she encounters the White Queen, who, impressed by her diplomatic abilities, gives her permission, and she passes through the countryside's eight squares, with some help by Tom. At the last square, she faces the evil Ren Queen who crowns her against her wishes, and plans to take it back.
Why It Sucks
- It's an obvious mockbuster of Alice in Wonderland.
- Obnoxious opening window credits, where the shutters open and close constantly.
- The animation, while more colorful than Burbank's previous in-house adaptations, suffers from limited movements and some lip-syncing issues.
- It doesn't do Alice any favors, as her face expressions lack emotion in certain scenes.
- There are also eye contact errors in lots of scenes.
- Despite the cat being shown on the cover of subsequent home media releases (as she appears on Chess Land with Alice holding it in her hands), it never makes it in Chess Land, where almost all of the film takes place.
- Pointless scenes include one where Tom Fool and Alice try to ride an unicorn and a centaur, respectively. Alice has a long talk with the centaur about where he should be heading to, and within a matter of seconds after, Tom and Alice get bucked off.
- Alice meets a goat on square three, and Tweedledum and Tweetledee and square four. The White Queen also mentions that Humpty Dumpty is on square five, evil creatures (namely the Bandersnatch, the Snark and the Jabberwocky) on squares six and seven, and the Red Queen on square eight. Alice goes through all these squares in a row, and then returns to each one of them, from eight to one (with said characters reappearing briefly), in order to reach the mirror and return to reality. Thus, the film suffers from chess-piece storytelling (no pun intended); a very formulaic plot.
- While the idea of twisting certain characters from the novel, namely Tweetledum and Tweetledee (who are runners), and Humpty Dumpty (a hybrid between an egg and a dinosaur; a "dinosaur egg") is noble, since Chess Land is supposed an illogical place, it's not realized to its full extent.
- Said characters have rather one-note traits, doing no justice to the plot, and others like the Goat and Humpty Dumpty also hammer in how their world is opposite, and the message of "not always believing what you see".
- The White Knight is also portrayed as a coward, and does not reappear after his encounter with Alice, making him quite unlikable.
- Tom Fool leaves Alice as she passes through the entrance to the third square, as he has to serve the White Queen, noting that he may return if possible. His reappearance on the seventh square, in which Alice has already met the other side-characters from the novel and is about to get trapped by the Jabberwocky, the Snark and the Bandersnatch, makes him quite a plot device, as he can transport himself and Alice to another location with his magic cane. That gives to the viewers little tension as to what will latter happen.
- Despite this magic ability, when the Red Queen calls the guards to catch Alice (now crowned Queen), Tom decides to fight them with his cane, which ends up braking. After that, he still has the magic to weaken the guards' swords and transport himself and Alice out of the Ren Queen's castle, before finally running out of magic.
- Most the talking about prime ministers, ambassadors, and "the rules of the games" (referred to at one point by Tom Fool, in order to make the Ren Queen crown Alice as Queen) give the feeling of a down-to-earth world.
- After forcefully crowing Alice as Queen, the Ren Queen tells an unknown wizard who just happen to be sitting along with other people(?) on the dining table, to do frightening tricks (f.e. making food come to life) that will make her go away. Giving the facts they have little to do with her anxieties, they are non-threatening, and that Alice has encountered all sorts of things that defy logic before, they are really pointless.
- The Red Queen is turned into unmemorable villain in this adaptation. Not only she has very little screen time, but her decision to obey the "rules of the game" by crowing Alice as Queen and get the crown back exactly afterwards is rather stupid.
- Plus, we don't know at all how the Red Queen was informed in the first place that Alice was approaching her castle.
- Despite being designed after the actor he's voiced by, Mr. T, and serving as one of the film's antagonists, the Jabberwocky, along with the Bandersnatch, never do anything threatening, aside from setting up a plan to trap Alice into a swamp of crocodiles, which gets foiled by Tom Fool. As the two later chase Alice and Tom Fool, who are heading to the mirror, they stumble upon the White Queen in a table with some tea; the Jabberwocky, the Snark and the Bandersnatch are ultimately defeated as the latter gratuitously spits flames at the tea pot.
- Bad and forgettable songs.
- Modern day references to jeans and Kleenex.
- Out of place references to Ed Sullivan and The Marx Brothers, during Tom Fool's tricks in front of the White Queen.
- To add insult to injury, Lewis Carroll is miscredited as Lewis Carrol during the opening credits.
- The voice acting is pretty good.
- Jonathan Winters does a really good job voicing both Tweedledum and Tweetledee.
- Alice's relationship with Tom Fool is well done.
- Tom Fool also illustrates well how illogical Chess Land is during his first song.
- Phyllis Diller as the White Queen.
- Alice's interactions with the Paper Man are funny.
- Nice soundtrack by Todd Hayen.
- "Jameson Brewer". Variety. October 1, 2003. Retrieved on December 2, 2020.