The Wiz Live!

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Wiz Live! Movie Poster Image
Brilliant, star-studded performance is great family fare.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 121 minutes

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 2 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

With the help of our friends, we can conquer fear and achieve our dreams. 

Positive Messages

Kids see Dorothy learn the meaning of family and home while she helps new friends make their own dreams come true. The story touches on loss (Dorothy's parents' death still weighs on her mind) but celebrates the journey to find happiness again. Themes include gratitude, humility, and teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dorothy begins the story hard-hearted and resistant to her aunt's love for her, but when she fears she's lost Em forever, she finds a new appreciation for that affection. She also demonstrates courage in the face of enemies such as the Wicked Witch. Her friends must overcome their own limitations to help her find her way back home.

Violence & Scariness

No violence, but there is discussion of Dorothy killing two witches over the course of the story. A few serious moments that could worry youngsters, as when Dorothy's tossed around in a storm or the Wicked Witch's entourage intimidates her.

Sexy Stuff
Language

Rarely "hell."

Consumerism

This production brings to the screen a Broadway musical story that's a take on The Wizard of Oz

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Wiz Live! is a telecast of the Broadway musical The Wiz, in celebration of the show's 40th anniversary. The likes of Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, and David Alan Grier surround newcomer Shanice Williams, who plays Dorothy in this adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. The story is excellent for families, with an impressive soundtrack, stunning costumes, and some clear themes about friendship, love, and what defines a family. Those who have seen The Wizard of Oz will enjoy talking about the similarities and differences between the original and this story. Very young kids might have some questions about some of the visual effects that let Dorothy fly through the eye of a tornado, for instance, but actual scares are very minimal. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNicoJer January 10, 2016

LOVED IT!

My kids love the Wizard of Oz tale and this live music version was amazing. Will be watching this for years.
Teen, 15 years old Written byApostolicKay December 11, 2015

Amazing!

This is an amazing movie! There are a few bad words, but I didn't catch them till my second time watching. There is one suggestive dance, but other than th... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 23, 2015
love this musical good for kids

What's the story?

THE WIZ LIVE is a televised stage production of the Broadway musical The Wiz, an all-African-American adaptation of L. Frank Baum's classic tale The Wizard of Oz. Shanice Williams stars as Dorothy, a teen who's reluctantly living on her aunt's farm after her parents' death. When a tornado sweeps her away to the magical land of Oz, Dorothy is desperate to get home and sets off down the Yellow Brick Road to ask the Wiz (Queen Latifah) to help her do just that. Along the way, she meets new friends -- the Cowardly Lion (David Alan Grier), the Tin Man (Ne-Yo), and Scarecrow (Elijah Kelley) -- each of whom hopes for help from the magical Wiz as well. But with the coveted silver slippers on her feet, she's a target for the less savory residents of Oz as well, including the notorious Evillene (Mary J. Blige). 

Is it any good?

Visually stunning and musically masterful, this live production truly is a joy to behold, bringing the look and feel of a full-scale Broadway show right into your living room. For a newcomer, Williams (who earned the starring role through an open casting call) does an impressive job holding her own among her Hollywood-honed cast. Even so, each musical scene feels like more of a showstopper than the previous one, with Blige, Latifah, Amber Riley, and Stephanie Mills -- The Wiz's original Dorothy from the show's 1975 debut, stepping in here to play Auntie Em -- commanding the stage with particularly incredible vocals.

The Wiz Live! is a fantastic introduction to the pageantry and creative interpretation of stage entertainment, and the few minor production hiccups only reinforce its authenticity as a live performance. The story offers a different spin on the familiar tale, and once you get past the fact that it's trampling on the classic (this might be harder for some than others), you'll thoroughly enjoy the story's humor, the elaborate costumes and makeup, and the standout individual performances. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz. How does the music compare? The costumes? The humor? When it comes to classics, do you have a hard time accepting different adaptations, or do you generally like them? 

  • What are the pros and cons of a live performance? Did you notice any production problems or timing stumbles? How does the fact that it's live make the show's success that much more impressive?

  • Kids: Are you drawn to the theater or other performance arts? Do you think that even actors and actresses of this caliber get nervous before a show? Why is it sometimes difficult to stand up in front of a crowd and perform? 

  • How do the characters in The Wiz Live! demonstrate courage and teamwork? What about gratitude and humility? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love musicals

Our editors recommend

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.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate