Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Video Review: The Muppets' Wizard Of Oz

After seeing nearly every other movie verion of Wizard Of Oz, I figured I might as well get around to doing the Muppets one too. Since Kermit and friends already knocked over A Christmas Carol and Treasure Island, it was probably going to be this or an Alice In Wonderland adaptation. Originally meant to be a made-for-TV movie, this was released on DVD as an extended feature with some material not used in the original broadcast, which included some rather mature stuff for an intended "family" film.

For this time around, Dorothy Gale(played by Ashanti)is a young waitress(did Tin Man steal this?)who wants to be a pop singer. After failing to get it to an audition for the Muppets, Dorothy heads back home to her trailer park, which gets swept off to Oz by a tornado. Once there, her pet prawn Toto(yep, prawn)has evolved into a larger talking prawn. The Munchkins are actually rats, although they're called Munchkins here, who are watched over by the Good Witch of the North(i.e. Miss Piggy). BTW, Piggy plays all the Witches in this. She sends Dorothy off to see the Wizard with her dead sisters' shoes. Along the way, Dorothy befriends Scarecrow(Kermit), Tin Man(Gonzo), and the Lion(Fozzie). They manage to get past the heckling Kalidahs(Statler and Waldorf), and the Poppyfield nightclub where the Electric Mayhem jam. After finally arriving at the Emerald City, each of our heroes go in to see the Wizard which takes on a different form for each one. The big Wiz tells them to get the Wicked Witch of the West's magic eye. The Witch has Piggy looking like Cher in biker gear, and uses her magic cap to command the flying monkeys(here a biker gang)to get Dorothy. Dorothy manages to push the Witch into a bathtub which was supposed to be filled with bottled water, but instead melts her. Dorothy and the others take the eye back to the Wizard, who is revealed to be a special effects expert from Hollywood and not really a wizard. He however makes it possible for Dorothy to be a celebrity in Oz, and gives the others their own hearts' desires. Dorothy realizes that she really wants to go back home though, so they head back to Munchkinland to get help from Glinda(also Piggy). She then uses her magic footwear to go back to Kansas, where the Muppets hire her on their Star Search ripoff show.

This was ultimately a decent movie, although it seemed to be a bit lacking in both style and substance from most Muppet productions. There was just too many pop culture parodies thrown in, like it was trying too much to be like Shrek. Plus, there was some stuff in this that was definately not for kids, like the phrase "bitchslap", or Kermit bringing up The Passion while being nailed up on the pole as a scarecrow. Ashanti wasn't bad as Dorothy, which apparently helped her later on to get in a recent production of The Wiz. I was mostly impressed though that the movie actually followed the original novel a little more than most adaptations did, like the East Witch being called Tattypoo which didn't even come up until the Ruth Thompson novels, as well as the West Witch only having one eye. I'd recommend this one at least as a rental or legal download.

1 comment:

  1. I was pleased by the closeness of the adaptation as well. The big things I noticed was the inclusion of the kalidah's and Kermit the Scarecrow's "bran new brains".