Rolling Stone - 01/10/1992
"...[A] witty and heartbreaking fairy tale..."
Sight and Sound - 07/01/1991
"...ALICE is richly stocked in character pleasures..."
Los Angeles Times - 01/31/1991
"...Charming....ALICE is pleasantly out of whacl....There are pleasures in its small-time ambitions..."
Alice Tate (Mia Farrow) is a rich Manhattan wife who spends her days shopping, getting pedicures, going to the salon, working out with her personal trainer, and seeing her chiropractor. But when she can't get rid of her back pain, she goes to an Asian herbalist (the wonderful Keye Luke, in his final performance) who gives her special herbs to cure what's really ailing her. Reluctantly, she takes these magical potions, which open up a whole new world for her, releasing her inner self, making her invisible, and allowing her to see dead ex-boyfriends. She begins to regret having given up her career in the theater and considers becoming a writer. Meanwhile, she is getting involved in a serious flirtation with Joe Ruffalo (Joe Mantegna), a divorced saxophone player who is drawn to her, while her very rich, very practical husband, Doug (William Hurt), continues to treat her as not-too-bright window dressing, belittling her and discouraging her attempts to become more independent. But the thought of having an affair terrifies her--and intrigues her. Beautifully photographed by Carlo di Palma, with a wonderful set design by Santo Loquasto, Woody Allen's ALICE is a smart, comic exploration of a woman rediscovering herself, trying to find out what happened to all of her dreams.
When a rich, unhappy housewife visits an acupuncturist to cure her painful back, he offers her potions to heal more than her physical ailments. For 16 years, Alice has remained faithfully wed to her wealthy, inattentive husband. Cooks prepare their dinner; nannies tend to their children. Yet Alice is unhappy and doesn't know why. But one visit to the magical Dr. Yang changes everything.
Theatrical release: December 1990.
Filmed on location in New York City.
Woody Allen told Roger Ebert that he was inspired to make this film after a visit to an acupuncturist someone had recommended to him to clear up his sties; the acupuncturist, a favorite with many wealthy Manhattan women, used cat's whiskers as "medicine." "It didn't work at all...the guy was totally fraudulent, but it stayed with me because it was such a funny story." Later he fleshed out the experience, thinking how wonderful it would be if there could be a simple, magical answer to all of a person's problems.
Among the many cameos in the film are appearances by James Toback, Elle MacPherson, Judith Ivey, David Spielberg, and Bob Balaban.
The soundtrack includes songs performed by Jackie Gleason, Artie Shaw, Erroll Garner, Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, and Liberace, among others.
Among the New York sights in the film are the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, the Big Apple Circus, Times Square, Barbetta restaurant, and Chinatown.
James McDaniel, who went on to play Lieutenant Arthur Fancy on NYPD BLUE, has a bit part as a party guest.
Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow, Woody and Mia's adopted daughter, plays Kate.