Alice Parent Guide
The idea of this movie is better than the reality.
Parent Movie Review
Along with her entire family, Alice (Keke Palmer) is enslaved on a large plantation in rural Georgia. The plantation owner, Paul Bennet (Johnny Lee Miller), is a cruel man, inclined to impatience and harsh punishments. When Alice’s husband, Joseph (Gaius Charles) tries to run away, Bennet not only sends his men to chase him down, but takes it out on Alice, beating her and chaining her in the yard overnight. The vicious plantation owner underestimates Alice’s resolve, and when he comes to unchain her, she attacks him and runs. Making her way through the woods, scared and alone, Alice has no choice but to keep running – until she hits the freeway. Thankfully, truck driver Frank (Common), manages not to hit her, but there’s no stopping the massive shock Alice is going to have to deal with. The year is 1973, and Alice has been lied to her entire life. Now she’s going to have to catch up with history – and find a way to go back for her family.
Time travel always says a lot about both periods, and even pseudo-time travel like this allows the audience to make easy comparisons between past and present. Shuffling 1850 right up next to the 1970’s is an interesting contrast, with the brutal regime of antebellum human trafficking giving a different perspective to a Civil Rights movement which has suffered losses of leadership, police brutality, and public backlash. Unfortunately, the film struggles to keep its fascinating premise on track.
Alice is an interesting character, played exceptionally well by Keke Palmer, but the film doesn’t seem invested in giving her the time to process her changing circumstances. The culture shock alone would be insane, but she seems to get things more or less figured out within about 18 hours. In Back to the Future, it took Marty McFly longer than that to get used to the 30 year jump back to 1955 so I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that acclimating to over a century of massive social, racial, and technological change should take more than an afternoon.
I like the idea of this movie more than I like the reality. There’s a compelling premise here, and it does manage to peek out from time to time, but it’s frequently buried under clumsy dialogue and a script that seems impatient to get to the finale. Given the difficult subject matter, the film even manages to avoid major content concerns, with only infrequent profanity and some violence. I just wish the filmmakers had been in less of a rush, and more willing to let the characters develop and evolve more convincingly. If you’re willing to swallow some frustration, you might be able to appreciate some of the movie’s themes and ideas but it’s unfortunate that kind of compromise is necessary.Directed by Krystin Ver Linden. Starring Keke Palmer, Common, Jonny Lee Miller. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release March 18, 2022. Updated March 15, 2022
Watch the trailer for Alice
Rating & Content Info
Why is Alice rated R? Alice is rated R by the MPAA for some violence and language
Violence: People are beaten and whipped. Characters are shot. An individual is non-fatally stabbed in the eye. A woman is slapped.
Sexual Content: There is a non-explicit depiction of rape.
Profanity: There are three uses of a sexual expletive, one use of a scatological term, and infrequent uses of mild cursing and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: People are briefly seen drinking.
Page last updated March 15, 2022
Alice Parents' Guide
The Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately end slavery. What did the Proclamation actually do? What else did it take to formally end racial slavery? How have those measures succeeded or failed? How does the prison industrial complex perpetuate forced servitude? Slavery still exists in the modern world: What are some examples? How could this be stopped?
History.com: Slavery in America
Wikipedia: Civil rights movement
The Atlantic: American Slavery, Reinvented
The Guardian: One in 200 people is a slave. Why?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If you’re interested in the experience of enslaved people, try books like Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and 12 Years a Slave. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was an historically important book in raising public awareness of the evils of slavery.
Related home video titles:
Other films about slavery in America include Harriet, 12 Years a Slave, Freedom, Lincoln, The Birth of a Nation, and Amistad. Another movie about historical slavery in the modern era is Antebellum. Films about modern civil rights movements include I Am Not Your Negro, John Lewis: Good Trouble, Malcolm X, Selma, Seberg, Mississippi Burning, and Green Book. The documentary 13th explores how slavery persists in America today.