Thursday, February 19, 2009

Film Review: THE WIZARD (1989, Todd Holland)

Stars: 1 of 5.
Running Time: 100 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Director Todd Holland (who went on to redeem himself, directing some episodes of TWIN PEAKS and co-creating WONDERFALLS), Christian Slater, Beau Bridges, Fred Savage, Luke Edwards.
Tag-lines: "They're on a cross-country adventure to the world's greatest video championship. It's more than a's the chance of a lifetime."
Best one-liner(s): "All right, I'm looking for a couple of kids. This one's a mental case, have you seen them?"

I am this movie's target audience. It's purported interests are MY interests: NES, Christian Slater, and 80's cheese. So allow me to explain the one star rating with four talking points:

#1. Waste of the Slater factor. So you got Slater, fresh off of HEATHERS, and... you sit him down on the sidelines? You're gonna tell him to put the eyebrows and the Nicholson voice away?! You, Todd Holland, sir, are an idiot.

There's still one scene in a diner where the Slater factor is high, but ONE scene in a WHOLE MOVIE of Slater? Come on. I'll tell you what you do; you switch out Slater's and Savage's characters, and you got yourself a much better flick. Seriously, though- not to harp on it, but HOW DO YOU WASTE CHRISTIAN SLATER LIKE THIS?! What is wrong with you?

#2. Cabazon Dinosaurs. These roadside attractions were cartoonishly and creatively depicted by Tim Burton in PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985).

Why would you make them central to the plot of a shitty movie a mere four years later? All anybody's gonna be thinkin' about is PEE WEE, and this is a far fuckin' cry from PEE WEE.

#3. Blatant consumerism. I can laugh at a feature-length commercial if it's ridiculous enough. I think MAC AND ME is hilarious.

Yeah, that's Tobey Maguire on the left. Still doesn't quite give this flick the push over the edge it needs, though.

The problem here is this: THE WIZARD thinks it's sincere when it's not. It thinks it's telling a heart-wrenching family saga, when it's really just hawking the power glove, which, everybody knows, sucked big time. I would've liked it much more if it was called THE POWER GLOVE AND ME and featured a scene where a wheelchair-bound kid fell off a cliff and was saved by the power glove. Which leads me to:

#4, Retardedsploitation.

I don't really have to spell it out for you. What this movie does with the mentally disabled is offensive enough, as is. It would be offensive if it were a Lifetime movie. But as part of a 100-minute commercial? That's like twisting a knife in the wound. THE WIZARD is not a fun jaunt down memory lane. It's a shitstorm of vulgar consumerism, utter mawkishness, and criminal misuse of Slater. One star.

-Sean Gill


Unknown said...

I remember I used to LOVE this movie when I was a little kid. I watched it just tonight, and couldn't help thinking, "Man this movie really sucks!" I can't believe I used to like it. Same thing goes for Surf Ninjas and Solarbabies.

Tempest said...

I saw this years ago. I watched it because Savage was in it and I loved how Jenny Lewis punched him. I watched it over the weekend only because Slater was in it, but yeah, this is definitely 80s cheese. The story is unrealistic--three kids traveling across state lines without being harmed? And does Hayley go live with them in the end? It was nice to see Christian so soon, but I would have thought he would be the lead, too. A teen old enough to drive would make more sense. Then, I guess teens too young to drive determined to not get caught added to this film's forced charm.

There are some movies I watch just because Slater is in them and this is one of them. Some of them I end up liking enough to own, some I don't.