A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
Though the film sometimes feels dated, The Wiz is fun to watch with its almost steampunk-y, New York City-like take on Oz, and 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.
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love classics and music
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch