A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that that the miniseries The Witches of Oz, which imports the characters of the beloved Wizard of Oz tales to modern-day New York, has some intense fantasy fight sequences that might be too much for young kids. On the positive side, Dorothy is a loyal friend and fights to protect her loved ones.
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What's the story?
A wizard (Christopher Lloyd) hides a magical word in a book -- a word that unleashes unspeakable powers. But the book is locked and can only be opened with a very special key. When the Wicked Witch makes a play for it, a young Dorothy clashes with her to prevent it, taking the key and landing in another world called Earth. As a grown-up, Dorothy (Paulie Rojas), an author, is summoned from Kansas to New York by a publisher who discovers her book in a competition and wants to make it into a movie and finish the next segment. Her new agent, Billie (Eliza Swenson), shuttles her to the Big Apple, where she's set up Dorothy in an apartment. Dorothy is meant to finish her book, but when she starts to remember who she really is and what happened -- and that she has enemies lurking amid so-called friends -- she realizes she has to finish what's been started.
Is it any good?
There's little new here, and the plot is muddled and poorly executed. (It's also overly long, running more than two-and-a-half hours, since it was originally conceived as a TV miniseries.) Rojas is an appealing actress who does the best she can with the material, but in the end there's not much that she (or Lloyd, hamming it up) can do to save The Witches of Oz.
The film starts with characters we all know and love and then transports them into a standard evil-witch-bent-on-taking-over-the-world story. Much of the joy of the original Wizard of Oz is that it's so unlike any other tale, yet it delivers a story with universal appeal. This overly complicated plot, on the other hand, mixes the Oz mythos with yet another nasty villain seeking some magical artifact that will give her the power to Rule the World.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about loyalty. How do Dorothy and her friends demonstrate their devotion to each other? How does this relate to your life?
How does this film fit into the larger mythology of the Wizard of Oz? Do you think it works as a new entry in the storyline? What parts of the tale are easily ported to New York City?
References about making the Dorothy character sexier in the movie version are played for laughs, but it may still be useful to talk to kids about how girls are portrayed too sexily too soon in the media.
- On DVD or streaming: April 10, 2012
- Cast: Billy Boyd, Christopher Lloyd, Paulie Rojas, Sean Astin
- Director: Leigh Scott
- Studio: Image Entertainment
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Book Characters, Great Girl Role Models
- Run time: 164 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: sequences of fantasy action and peril, scary images and brief language
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