Sweetie is a scaredy-cat. Despite the fact that he is approaching his 8th birthday, this kid is afraid of everything. He's getting better, but seriously, everything freaks him out. Knowing this about him, I was hesitant to take him to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, but he begged. He "promised" he wouldn't get scared as long as we didn't go to the 3-D version. Ha. Famous last words.
If you're familiar with Tim Burton's work, you know that he is "dark" and, some would say, a bit twisted in his vision. Though I am generally a sunny person and prefer the bright and happy things in life, I like Tim Burton's work for the genius of it. He definitely has his own vision and he puts it in everything he does. I love that about his films. His vision shows again in Alice in Wonderland. He takes the famous story and adjusts it. It begins with Alice as a young girl having a recurring nightmare, where she goes to this strange place called Wonderland that has all of these strange characters. She explains to her father that she thinks she's going crazy because she sees a purple disappearing cat, a blue caterpillar, a mad hatter, and various other odd creatures. Her father - a visionary who has been called nuts more than once in his life - assures her it is only a dream, and if she gets scared, she need merely pinch herself and she will wake up.
Fast forward 13 years; Alice's father has died and her mother is attempting to marry her off to a nobleman. After the young man proposes, Alice needs a moment, and she runs away to think. She follows this little white rabbit she keeps seeing running in the bushes of the garden. She is peeking down a hole and she falls ... all the way down to Underland. Things have changed over the years, but the same characters are there and they've been waiting for her. According to an ancient scroll, she will slay the Red Queen's champion on a particular day (which is coming soon). They've been looking for the "right" Alice so she can come and do the deed.
The movie is full of trials and tribulations for Alice as she tries to figure out what to do. Not surprisingly, there are chases and battles. In one of the chases early in the movie, the famous doormouse pokes a needle in the eye of a beast, pulls it out, and saves it as a trophy. Though blood did not squirt all over the place, the gouging was pretty obvious. Sweetie flipped out!! "Mom, did you see that? That mouse jousted out his eye. Oooooh, let's go, I don't want to see anymore eye jousting." That was it for him. I refused to leave - he insisted on seeing the movie and we just got there - so he wrapped his arms around my upper arm and buried his head. "Tell me when the eye jousting is over." Despite my many promises that the eye "gouging" was finished, he hid his face for quite awhile.
As the movie progressed, some "creepy" things happen. In one scene, Alice must hop on the severed heads - left over the from the Red Queen's "off with his head" declarations - in order to cross a river. Sweetie flipped again. It took awhile until he finally settled again, though he leaned over and said, "Mom, I really want to go. I know there's going to be more eye jousting." Steadfast in my purported lesson of "finish what you start" I did not budge.
As the movie was building to the denoument, the final battle erupted; the red knight (a brilliant surprise by Crispin Glover) and all of the red cards were fighting with the odd characters of Alice's tea party. And wouldn't you know it, someone gouged out another eye! Sweetie sat up, looked at me with wide eyes and said "you said there wouldn't be anymore eye jousting, but they just did it again. I'll wait for you in the hall!" and I'll be darned if that kid did not get up from his seat and beat feet out of the theater! We were so close to the end I tried to coax him to hold on just a few more minutes but he remained committed. He said, "really, Mom, I'll just sit right outside the door. No more eye jousting!"
So I stood at the top of the aisle, with him outside the door, and I watched the last five minutes of the film. When I walked out to meet him, I chuckled and said he was just being silly, that it wasn't that bad and the rest of the movie was fine and he stood right in front of me, looked me straight in the eyes (pun intended) and said, "Mom, I have a new rule for movies. No shooting, no blood, no hurting animals, and now no more eye jousting!"
Well. So there it is.