Reviewed By Rob Gonsalves
Posted 03/11/07 23:53:53

"Woody at rock bottom."
2 stars (Pretty Crappy)

How did Walt Kelly's Porky Pine put it? 'Trifles trifles light as air.'

Woody Allen's intolerably precious New Age variation on Lewis Carroll is about a mousy woman (Mia Farrow) who visits a Chinese mystic (Keye Luke in his last performance) and buys various potions to make her invisible, sexy, etc. She meets a shy, appealing stranger (Joe Mantegna, who turns out not to be appealing when he's shy); she leaves her stick of a husband (William Hurt) and actually goes off to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa. This, apparently, is what we all need.

Alice is very nice and harmless, if that's what you look for in a film. But Allen's introduction of magic into the plot, rather than making it larger as he intends, makes it smaller. This fantasy is simply too thin and dreary to stand alongside Woody's other Mia Farrow Calgon-take-me-away fantasy, The Purple Rose of Cairo, though at least here he gives Mia a happier ending. The movie could've used a cast of supporting characters comparable in wit, imagination, and metaphoric weight to those in Carroll's stories.

Instead, we get many stars (Alec Baldwin, Blythe Danner, Judy Davis, Judith Ivey, Bernadette Peters, Cybill Shepherd, Gwen Verdon, Patrick O'Neal, Julie Kavner, Robin Bartlett, Bob Balaban, Elle Macpherson) in roles that barely register and that anyone could've played. And it got worse for Woody fans before it got better the Woodman's next was 'Shadows and Fog,' about which the less said the better.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.