The Wiz



Jazzy, family-friendly musical remake of classic film.
  • Review Date: November 20, 2011
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 135 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion are all, at times, handicapped by self-imposed fears and insecurities, and they all manage to overcome these burdens and discover their hidden strengths.

Positive role models

Dorothy, a shy teacher who's lived her entire life within a few miles of home, finds an amazing new world, Oz, and in the process is inspired to broaden her own horizons in her real life in New York City. Like the original film, this is a movie about learning how to tap into the strengths that may lurk undiscovered inside you.

Violence & scariness

Some of the bad guys can be pretty creepy and the Wicked Witch is definitely bad news, though the fight scenes, such as they are, are more like ominous dance sequences than actual fisticuffs.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this musical retelling of the classic story, The Wizard of Oz, features an all African-American cast and songs with a contemporary (well, 1970s, anyway) flair. The big numbers are catchy, and though some of the villains seem a bit more creepy and threatening than the original film, it's still good, family fun.

What's the story?

Dorothy (Diana Ross), a shy schoolteacher from Harlem who's never discovered a world beyond her neighborhood, is transported to the land of Oz. There, her only way out is to follow the Yellow Brick Road and meet THE WIZ, who has the power to get her back home. On her way, she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion, who aid her on the quest. They, too, are looking to the Wiz to give each of them what they're missing.

Is it any good?


The Wiz is both familiar to anyone who's seen The Wizard of Oz (that's just about everyone) and not, with its revamped look and pop-funk-Broadway style song-and-dance numbers. It's a story that will resonate, but it also goes a bit beyond. The original story is about a girl who just wants to go home; this one's about a girl who grows up and realizes that there's more to the world beyond her front door -- both wonderful lessons.

Though the film sometimes feels dated, The Wiz is fun to watch with its almost steampunk-y, New York City-like take on Oz. The songs are supremely danceable. Its takeaways still resonate after all these years, too, and the cast is unforgettable. How can one resist Michael Jackson as the scarecrow? Nipsey Russell is the Tin Man; Lena Horne is Glinda, and Richard Pryor makes a memorable wizard.


Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this film compares to The Wizard of Oz, upon which it's based. The basic storyline is almost the same, but the details are quite different. What are the most interesting changes? Why do you think the filmmakers chose to remake the original?

  • How does this film compare to remakes of other beloved classics? Do you like the idea of making a new version of well-known movies? Do you think some work better than others?

Movie details

DVD release date:February 1, 2005
Cast:Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor
Director:Sidney Lumet
Studio:Universal Studios
Run time:135 minutes
MPAA rating:G
MPAA explanation:Contains nothing in theme, language, nudity, sex, violence or other matters that, in the view of the Rating Board, would offend parents whose younger children view the motion picture

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byMomofhandi January 5, 2013

Great old movie to watch with your kids

I loved this movie. My nine year old really liked it and was totally engaged. My 6 almost 7 year old was a little restless toward the end (it's a little over 2 hours long). We discussed the fact that it is an entirely African American cast (my 6 year old finally noticed this toward the end). We also talked about Michael Jackson and that Lena Horne was mixed. Both kid reviews on this site expressed being offended at the part where the dancers were "naked" and "the guys and girls where taking there clothes off". This was around 1:46 into the movie. The dancers took off their huge over costumes in a scene where they were setting themselves free since the witch was dead (sprinkler system, she's allergic). The women ended up wearing what amounted to a bikini, and the men wore slightly more than a jockstrap. The dancing was in no way suggestive or sexy, just a Broadway-style, musical, corps-type dance number. So I let my children watch it, my finger on the fast forward button just in case. They were not disturbed by it in the least (they are very sheltered), neither was I. All in all, a great movie with some historical significance. I highly recommend it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2012

dancing naked women innapropriate

I am offended by a scene that has women dancing in less than a bikini! they only covered just what was needed and none else! Also two uses of the h-word!
Teen, 16 years old Written byJoBrofanJa19 March 23, 2013

The "naked" dancing is only part of this great movie... mature much?

First of all, let me mention the "controversial" part of the movie... I absolutely agree with Momofhandi's review. For all the little kids and some parents who were offended by the scene when the Wicked Witch's minions were free and "naked"... I've seen much worse at the beach/pool and often from girls around my age. If you are easily offended by that, then I suggest you guys don't ever visit a peach or pool area, especially during a party, depending on the type. The scene might be a little uncomfortable if you're watching with your kids/parent(s), but other wise it's perfectly harmless and non-sexual, just dancing you see in a Broadway show or maybe a ballet (where people often wear tight clothes, yet who is complaining about that?). My advice: just fast forward it if there's a big problem. It's only halfway into the movie, near the end! Why is there a huge focus on it?! I hate to say it, but you can truly see who's mature for their age and who isn't by looking through the kid's reviews. Anyway, this is a great film. I don't understand why it got bad reviews when it was released. It's not a huge big classic like the original movie, but it's not better or worse than it either. it's not the perfect movie acting-wise, but everything else is time notch for the time, especially the singing. The 4 main characters are great role models in their own ways. I grew up watching this movie and always loved it. It's a shame some people don't appreciate it more than they should. Somethings may be more for older kids/adults (like the settings, somewhat scary scenes, etc) , and other things are more for kids, so overall it's a good movie for most ages.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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