The Wizard sounded good on paper. It would capitalize on the Nintendo craze and offer a few choice dramatic performances for some up-and-coming stars. But as many Hollywood ideas go, they only sound good on paper.
Wizard, The (1989)
Directors: Todd Holland
Producers: David Chisholm
Writers: David Chisholm
Luke Edwards...Jimmy Woods/The Wizard
Beau Bridges...Sam Woods
Fred Savage...Corey Woods
Christian Slater...Nick Woods
Wendy Phillips...Christine Bateman
Tobey Maguire...Lucas' goon at Video Armageddon (uncredited)
From time to time, DVDFuture writers will be reviewing old DVD releases or new special edition DVD releases of classic or cult films. We'll also review out-of-print movies and bootleg prints of long forgotten cult gems we’d like to see officially released on DVD or special edition-ized in our newest feature: Retro Releases. Enjoy and stay groovy!
This Weeks Retro Release: The Wizard
In 1989, video games were reaching a peak in the mainstream market, particularly the dominant system at the time, The Nintendo Entertainment System. People were playing less catch and more Super Mario Brothers. The phenomenon was not a fad, it was here to stay.
So, in the midst of Nintendo’s hype came one of the very first video game movies, The Wizard. The Wizard actually managed to dreg up quite a few stars, including Beau Bridges, Fred Savage and Christian Slater among others (a then unknown Tobey Maguire is even in the film as an extra towards the end).
I guess The Wizard sounded good on paper. It would capitalize on the Nintendo craze and offer a few choice dramatic performances for some up-and-coming stars. But as many Hollywood ideas go, they only sound good on paper.
The Wizard is essentially Rain Man meets The Karate Kid (with a strong dash of Tommy), only without the intense emotional drama...or the karate. Instead, we’re treated to cliché, poorly written characters and Super Mario Brothers 3 supplemented for the karate. The result is hollow, trite and ultimately disastrous.
Below is a list of what I learned from The Wizard:
* Every person you meet while traveling on the road acts like a pedophile, but but not too much because the film is rated PG.
* In hotel casino arcades, instead of arcade games, you play Nintendo games.
* Apparently there are only 97 Nintendo games ever made, ever.
* The power glove is, as one character says, "BAD". Yes, yes it is.
* Getting a star at the end of each level in Super Mario Brothers 3 will allow you to get 20,000 points.
* Child bounty hunters are sleazy creeps.
* Even in 1989, Christian Slater desperately needed work.
* Videogames really do solve family issues.
* Being shy can be misdiagnosed for severe psychosis.
* Severe psychosis, or being shy, makes you good at videogames.
* If you’re a nerdy looking girl, you’re good at videogames.
* Gambling is okay, even if you’re twelve.
* It’s okay to lie.
* Videogame tournaments with $50,000 cash prizes only have two rounds of competition and your parents don’t even need to be present.
* The videogame tournament "championship round" only lasts five minutes.
* It’s good to be a little evil sometimes.
* There are only about three or four rest stops between Utah and L.A.
* Most of the popular Nintendo games didn’t end; they relied on how high your score was.
* $25,000 buys you a nice house in Reno.
* When you tow a car, you immediately strip it down for parts.
* You can put said car back together in only a few hours.
* Crashing into people’s cars is okay if you’re angry with that person.
* You can crash into their car in the middle of the street.
* Mullets really are cool (see: Tobey Maguire’s hip due).
* Never trust Mexicans.
* Hitching a ride with a complete stranger is totally fine, if you know the rules of the road.
* Stealing a semi truck is fine if you need to get to California.
* It’s okay to hire a hobo to gamble for you if you’re underage.
* You can, and should, trust people named Spanky.
* Videogames, specifically Nintendo games, are the greatest games, if not the greatest thing, on the entire planet!
As entertainment: * * *
As a film: * ½
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1:85:1, The Wizard looks pretty good. There are some scratches here and there, but I’d guess this is the best version of the film we will ever see, so enjoy.
Here, we’re presented with a pretty decent Dolby Stereo track. It’s nothing to cry home about, but it’s most certainly not bad.
English captions are also included.
Nothing by way of the extras which is pretty sad. I think Universal could have talked a few of the stars into being interviewed. What’s the deal? The cult audience wants to know!
So yeah, The Wizard is horrible, but also fun in a Snakes on a Plane sort of way. The film doesn’t really follow the rules of the Nintendo games and it seems like the script was written with old Atari games like Pong in mind, not Ninja Gaiden or Super Mario Brothers. The finale of the film is incredibly bad. It made the screenwriter in me feel quite depressed. Regardless, if you’re a fan of Nintendo, you’ll likely enjoy this horrid movie. It’s got a terrible script with a great cast...plus there’s videogames AND the Powerglove. How could you possibly go wrong?
Overall Value: 6
* Running Time: 100 minutes
* List Price: $14.98
* Available on DVD August 29th 2006.
* Add me as a friend on Myspace
* Email Me with Comments, Concerns, Questions and Complaints regarding this review, but please, be nice.
----R. L. Shaffer