Alex in Wonderland (1970)

Alex in Wonderland (1970)

“Is there a movie in it?”

A hot new director (Donald Sutherland) struggles to find material for his second film.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Donald Sutherland Films
  • Ellen Burstyn Films
  • Hollywood
  • Mid-Life Crisis
  • Movie Directors
  • Paul Mazursky Films

Paul Mazursky’s second movie — like his later Willie and Phil (1980) — is a shameless homage to the European filmmakers and stars he so idolizes. After the enormous success of his debut film (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice), Mazursky chose to make a movie — a la Fellini’s 8 1/2 — about the creative process itself, and how a director’s quest for “true”, “meaningful” art is mediated by countless other influences (including pushy Hollywood moguls, monetary concerns, family, and all-around self-doubt). While it contains a few moments of hilarity and truth, however, Alex suffers from an enormous, insurmountable problem: these are not people one wants to spend time watching. Alex himself is annoyingly self-absorbed, and, with the exception of his wife and daughters, he’s surrounded by shallow, self-serving types. I was glad to see this autobiographical vanity project come to an end.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A hilarious scene in which a Hollywood producer (Mazursky) propositions Alex with various inane movie ideas
  • Ellen Burstyn as Alex’s supportive yet frustrated wife

Must See?
No. Peary lists this in the back of his book as a Cult Movie, but I don’t think it’s essential viewing for film fanatics.


One thought on “Alex in Wonderland (1970)

  1. Agreed – definitely not a must. And I think the assessment here allows a small, undeserved kindness.

    ‘AIW’ is simply a dull, pretentious piece of garbaaahge. As a “big director” (with one film to his credit), Sutherland is an insufferable bore and his performance is embarrassing. It’s a wonder anyone (family, friends, anybody) tolerates him.

    Soon after ‘AIW’ begins, don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking, ‘Just end…end…END ALREADY!’ In one particularly pointless dream sequence, people hanging out in downtown Hollywood find themselves attacked by the military and Sutherland is in the middle of it all, crying. What’s the significance? ~much like the rest of the film…nothing. Nothing at all works here.

    A forgotten film and best left that way.

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