BY ISA MONTAGNESE
I feel like I’ve been waiting for this movie my whole life. Funk and soul music is the only music (pretty much) that exists in our house now and when I mentioned this movie to my parents growing up, they broke out in song.
The Wiz is the all-black, all-funk take on the Wizard of Oz (1939). This movie came out in 1978, a couple years after the Broadway version came out. The cast is jammed with HUGE stars: Diana Ross (Dorothy), Michael Jackson (Scarecrow), Lena Horne (Glinda), Richard Pryor (Oz) and Nipsey Russell (Tinman). I’m sure you can guess most of the story, but the setting is all new. In this version, Oz is a fantastical version of inner city New York in the ’70s. There are factories, sky scrapers, subways, rundown buildings, rundown playgrounds, clubs and cabs. I want to live there so bad.
WHY IT’S TERRIBLE:
NO REASONS!! IT’S PERFECT!!
OK, but I do have a couple minor complaints:
- What is with the ’70s? Did everyone just forget how to light movies? Every scene either has weird shadows or is really dark.
- It’s really long. Like 2 hrs and 15 mins long.
- Lena Horne has one bloody scene. Seriously?
WHY IT’S AWESOME!:
- It’s such a big movie! It’s so stylized and borderline political. The filmmakers and everyone involved did not hold back! It’s the strangest movie I’ve seen in a long time. I watched the first hour with my jaw dropped. No joke.
- Michael Jackson looks like an uncomfortable doll, but owns it! At the beginning of his solo career, I can only imagine how cool he was to do this movie.
- Scarecrow’s constant quoting of famous thinkers. He literally pulls scraps of paper with quotes on them out of his stuffing to read out loud.
- Diana Ross’s hair.
- Richard Pryor as the saddest man ever.
- Literally all the costumes and sets. I mean all of it (specific, I know). This movie looks of the time, on theme and really thought out. Though to be honest, sometimes, it’s really cheesy. But I still love it!
- The Munchkins are frozen in time by the evil witch in the form of playground graffiti.
- The good witches! One is a sparkly bag lady (above) and one is Lena Horne. Lena Horne saves the day and the movie in a giant sparkly dress surrounded by little kids in matching sparkly dresses. She is flawless.
- The terrifying subway scene (yes, there’s a subway in Oz ), where the subway platform attacks our heroes and Lion has a chance to prove his bravery.
- The poppy field scene is recreated as a sexy club with sexy ladies with sparkly drugs! Yah!
- The factory scene where Dorothy frees the factory workers and they break out in dance wearing barely anything. So many man (and lady) butts!!
- The music! Though all the songs are from the Broadway version, they’re larger than life in the film version and just the cheesiest and funkiest! I couldn’t not include Diana Ross’s heartbreaking solo.