The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005)
Directed by Kirk R. Thatcher

Artistic Value: * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * *

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Dorothy (Ashanti), an aspiring singer living in a Kansas trailer park and working in a greasy diner for her Aunt Em (Queen Latifah) and Uncle Henry (David Alan Grier), is whisked away by a tornado to the land of Oz together with her pet prawn, Toto (Pepe the Prawn). There, she resolves to ask the Wizard of Oz (Jeffrey Tambor), who resides in the Emerald City, to make her famous. On her subsequent journey, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow (Kermit the Frog), the Tin Thing (Gonzo), and the Cowardly Lion (Fozzie Bear), who all decide to accompany her. The Wizard, however, refuses to help Dorothy unless she first brings him the magical all-seeing eye possessed by the Wicked Witch of the West (Miss Piggy).

Kirk R. Thatcher's The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, which is largely a send up of Victor Fleming's earlier film, rather than of L. Frank Baum's original novel, is a generally entertaining and frequently funny movie.


Much of the humor the director has included is surprisingly clever or charmingly odd. It is, consequently, likely to make the moviegoer laugh on several occasions. When the Tin Thing is introduced, for instance, Toto asks him about the functions of certain knobs protruding from his mechanical body, to which the former replies that the knobs in question are his nipples and do not do anything. Elsewhere, Thatcher depicts the Wicked Witch of the West as the leader of a motorcycle gang, the Flying Monkeys, who is filming her daily life as a reality television show, and, in still other sequences, such as that in which the Wizard attempts to seduce the Tin Thing with a holographic projection of a sultry hen, the director reveals that character's peculiar sexual attraction to poultry. Some of the other changes Thatcher has made to The Wizard of Oz, which include turning the saccharine sweet Munchkins of the previous film into a swarm of rats and altering Dorothy's interest in seeing the eponymous Wizard from a desire to go home to a desire for fame, are also deliciously weird. He has even given Toto a wish of his own, although this alternates between a desire for cash and a date with J-Lo.


Sadly, the movie includes a fair number of other elements that are far less impressive than are its jokes and humorous details. Most of the songs, for instance, are entirely forgettable. Several of these, in fact, are a little painful to listen to. After arriving in the Emerald City, Dorothy is given an absolutely hideous outfit and a ridiculous hair style that make it unpleasant for the viewer to look at her for the remainder of the film. A number of the director's attempts to inject the movie with sentimentality are awkward and false, and the sets and costumes, while often reasonably creatively designed, range from mediocre to shoddy when realized.


In spite of such shortcomings, The Muppets' Wizard of Oz is likely to retain the viewer's interest throughout its duration. It is surprisingly enjoyable.

Review by Keith Allen

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