A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that After the Wizard makes an earnest effort to deliver positive messages and humor and to show the value of all forms of family, though most scenes are too talky and static to effectively deliver these points. Some kids, especially younger ones, may find the story confusing when it moves from the present to the past and back again and later when the film ends without clear resolution. Still, there's nothing objectionable other than some mild suspense regarding the safety of a stray dog, an oncoming tornado, and the possibility of the young heroine having to leave the orphanage to suffer some unstated fate.
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What's the story?
Elizabeth (Jordan VanVranken) is a 12-year-old orphan struggling to find her way in the world. She believes with all her heart that she's Dorothy Gale, the heroine of L. Frank Baum's book The Wizard of Oz, who returned from The Emerald City only to lose her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. But no one will believe the troubled young girl, not even the kindly director of the Kansas orphanage where she lives. Elizabeth/Dorothy longs to meet up again with her loving companions from the Yellow Brick Road and return to Oz. At the same time, The Tin Woodman (Orien Richman) and The Scarecrow (Jermel Nakia) have set out from Oz to find Dorothy and bring her back once again to help their country. After a bumpy journey in which The Tin Woodman and The Scarecrow navigate their way to Kansas and Elizabeth/Dorothy is reunited with a stray she's certain is Toto, fantasy and reality meet head-to-head.
Is it any good?
This movie has good intentions and some fine performances -- Peter Mark Richman shines as a blind Southern gentleman, and the Tin Woodman and The Scarecrow are awkward but winning. But the story never quite jells, and the resolution is weak. It's obvious that AFTER THE WIZARD's budget was very low and that director-writer Hugh Gross, as well as many of the actors, are new to the profession.
The film lacks both clarity and momentum, and, most importantly, it asks many more questions than it successfully answers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Elizabeth wanting to be Dorothy Gale instead of herself. What happened to Elizabeth in real life that made her want to be someone else? Why do you think she chose Dorothy?
The Tin Woodman and The Scarecrow come to Kansas from Oz. Name some of the things they found strange and new. Why is it funny to watch characters learn about things that are already familiar to us?
Do you ever imagine that you're a character from a book or movie? Who would you want to be? Why?
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