The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this Muppet caper operates on two levels, with numerous gags that mainly adults will understand. The movie includes mischievous references to R-rated movies (Kill Bill, Passion of the Christ) and pretty far-out rock and roll, like the legend that Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album has been used as an "alternative soundtrack" to the 1939 Wizard of Oz with trippy results.
What's the story?
In THE MUPPETS' WIZARD OF OZ, pop/R&B diva Ashanti plays Dorothy, a sassy wannabe music star who's bored to death living the slow life in Kansas, working at her Auntie Em's (Queen Latifah) diner. Dorothy misses her chance to audition for a travelling "Star Search" type show run by the Muppets, then she's swept up by a tornado and deposited in Oz. To get back to Kansas, she must appease the mysterious Wizard by going on a quest to get the magic eye of the Wicked Witch of the West. In clever casting, Kermit the Frog is the Scarecrow, Fozzie Bear is the Cowardly Lion, and Gonzo is the Tin Man. Miss Piggy plays three different witches, good, bad, and narcissistic. Honeydew and Beaker show up as high-tech henchman who pull off the illusions of the Wizard (Jeffrey Tambor), and -- in a very clever touch -- the Wizard of Oz takes a completely different form depending on whoever gazes upon him.
Is it any good?
The Muppets' Wizard of Oz premiered on prime-time TV in America, and the video box bears the curiosity of two sets of ratings: a TV "PG" and a theatrical equivalent of a "G." This does seem to be edgier in its humor than previous, G-rated Muppet-brand-name fare. But it never stops reminding you that it's only a movie, making mention that one of the top Muppet talents is actually named Frank Oz. At the climax, action-director Quentin Tarentino appears as himself, excitedly describing to a quivering studio-exec Kermit how violent he can make the next scene.
Ashanti is pretty good when it comes to reacting to Muppets, but the ending moral is a little questionable -- Dorothy, returned to Kansas, gets Auntie Em's blessing to go seek music celebritydom after all. Translation: There's no place like stretch limos and lots of bling, either. We wish this were made into another Muppet joke, but it seems more like the filmmakers wanting their hip-hop heroine to have it both ways.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the fact that a human actor -- Ashanti -- is in the main role, rather than Kermit or some other Muppet. Was it as entertaining as other Muppet movies, where the puppets are center stage? How well did this version work, compared to other versions of the L. Frank Baum classic?
|Theatrical release date:||May 20, 2005|
|DVD release date:||August 9, 2005|
|Cast:||Dave Goelz, David Alan Grier, Jeffrey Tambor|
|Studio:||Walt Disney Pictures|
|Genre:||Family and Kids|
|Topics:||Magic and fantasy, Music and sing-along, Puppets|
|Run time:||100 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||general audiences|