The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz – Extended Film Version
Sound: C+ Extras: C Main Feature: C
Remaking classics is always a difficult thing to do, but
when it has involved Muppets, it has usually worked because they would have fun
with the classic and they have been at this for a while. The Muppets’ Wizard Of Oz (2005)
starts out trying to do the same thing, but gets caught up in several problems
that hurt the production. For one, it
wants to be the 1939 MGM classic AND the 1978 Sidney Lumet version, The Wiz
at the same time. It can never make up
its mind which one to send up or take from.
Then there is the singer Ashanti, who is getting booked by her agent in
any project that can be booked, which is not always a good idea.
Playing Dorothy, she just walks through this production,
seeming almost bored throughout. As old
as she was in 1978 in the same role, at least Diana Ross tried to show some
energy and enthusiasm, even if it did not make her a teenager again. Ashanti’s acting is as bad as her lack of
enthusiasm, as if she wanted to get going and finish her work here. Queen Latifah and David Allen Grier are not
in the program enough and with 20 minutes added, the show drags out even more. Quentin Tarantino has a cameo as himself, trying
to convince film executive Kermit about a more “cutting edge” version of the
film, which sounded like a great idea after enduring this longer cut. For those in the know, you will recognize
the scene as a reference to the Phil Collins music video for his 1985 hit Don’t
Lose My Number, a clip I would rather watch a few dozen times back to back
than sit through The Muppets’ Wizard Of Oz ever again. Oh, and Ashanti did worse in Be Cool
(reviewed elsewhere on this site), for which children are fortunately
restricted form seeing.
The 1.33 X 1 image is soft, with off color and odd
camerawork throughout. Not only is it
not as colorful as the Warner Bros. copies of the 1939 classic that show the
color and the money put on screen, but it is not even as good looking as the
purposely darker 1978 The Wiz.
There is some occasionally good production value, but it actually lands
up looking as cheap and choppy as Walter Murch’s misguided Return To Oz
from 1986. What were they
thinking? The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is
quieter than usual, as if anticipating a children’s audience. Extras include behind the scenes, outtakes
& bloopers and more with Tarantino.
Stick with MGM and Lumet’s feature films instead. As for The Muppets, this is a rare
miss. Good thing a bunch of better
titles are being issued for Kermit’s 50th Anniversary.
- Nicholas Sheffo