The Wiz (1978) * Favorite Review *
Genre: Fantasy Adventure Family Musical
Starring: Diana Ross (Lady Sings The Blues; Mahogany), Michael Jackson (Ghosts; Miss Cast Away)
Directed By: Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men; Serpico)
A young girl An African-American kindergarten teacher trapped in a tornado tragic special effect wakes up in Oz, a fantastical land of wonder, a banal ghetto, where she finds that getting home is going to take some real effort, given that the Wicked Witch of The West is out to get her. no one can stop singing long enough to help her.
Acting: It was more fun finding out what other things these actors have been in than watching them in this. I don't know if the word 'embrassing' does this film justice. If you compartmentalize everything else and just look at the performances... oh Lord, God no! Is this ever tacky! You might say that there were a couple of good scenes, but all the supporting cast, those dancers, they were tragic. I've seen more talent in glue-huffing junkies. Oh and try doing better in your overdubbing, this isn't amovie about time travelling to catch up with your voice. Oh that ending where everyone's crying for the last 20 minutes? TONE IT DOWN ROSS! You too Richard Pryor (not kidding). Michael? Never mind. Bad director on drugs!
Cinematography: It would have been nice if the director had tried a couple more takes to make the out of sync overdubbing less obvious. The costumes were decent, and I'm in no was saying 'good'. The sets, however, were poorly thought out, very low-budget, including the occasional rickety staircase or cheap afro-head that was the 'great and powerful wizard'. If you were trying to foreshadow a bleak post-apocalyptic world like the one in 12 Monkeys, you did better than trying to recreate Oz. Yeah, even you Lena Horne, Ms. Glenda the Good Witch!
Script: The overdubbing might have been a bit of the problem here, or perhaps it's the fact that this is 30 minutes longer than the original. Let me tell you why. Singing, songs and musical numbers. Picture this: Wicked Witch sings a song, then our quatro-retardo sings a song, and they kill her. Then, a victory song, then they sign another song, as though the first victory song wasn't enough. What in God's name is the purpose of that? Move on, it's supposed to be a story, not a ballet show. So weak, so weak.
Plot: Holy stupid. Remember in The Wizard of Oz how the characters all just so happened to have the very things they were looking for? How they just needed to prove it after being given their quest? This doesn't even pretend to do that. Dorothy says things like "You're so smart" to the scarecrow's ideas, or the lion defeats enemies before even getting to The Wiz. I kind of thought half the story was about how their voices were enslaved to look like they were a second behind their mouths, evil Witch! turns out it was just BAD OVERDUBBING. They molested the hell out of the original ending. The Wiz didn't hand out any presents, and there wasn't even a reunion with the family when she was done her ordeal. How could you mess up what was already done and written for you?!
Mood: To have a happy moments in the streets, passing piles of garbage and graffiti as they merrily sang. OK, look, this is FANTASY, that mean ESCAPING the reality that you live in New Jersey. I'm sorry you don't live in the Hamptons, but you can PRETEND. Wait, wait, there's also the ultra-original sci-fi fantasy moment where they get attacked in the SUBWAY by the pillars. The terrible overdubbing doesn't help the mood either.
"NEXT STOP SCARSBURG STATION!"
Overall Rating: 40% (Wiz On this and It'll Smell Better)Aftertaste: Equus, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, even Child's Play for God's sake! This director has made some of American's best and most popular films. Explain to me how he ended up directing this regurgitating toilet?! Besides, he's some middle-class Honky! How can he direct a movie that's an African-American retelling of a classic film? Fine, fine he's from Philly, fine. This was so bad that it corrupted the original, making it stink of a garbage strike in the middle of the summer. This is tragic, and with a 24 million dollar budget, for a film to make 13 million in theaters, hey, the numbers speak for themselves. People didn't like it. I bought this as a joke, and the joke was on me. At least it was a dollar.
And HEY! As if! There's not even ONE white person in this, how sexist!