The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
It appears the Muppets may be tackling too much. In an obvious attempt to appeal to a wider audience, their latest adventure is so packed with diversions and distractions that it veers dangerously off course.
Like Muppet Treasure Island, this new made-for-television movie is based on a literary classic. Retelling L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, the script introduces pop singer Ashanti as the despondent Dorothy who is stuck waiting tables in her aunt (Queen Latifah) and uncle’s (David Alan Grier) diner. Meanwhile, her real dream is to break out of the deadbeat Kansas town she lives in and make it big in the music world.
Just to prove she has what it takes to be a diva, the singer’s abilities are showcased in the film’s music video-like opening. There the gingham-wearing songster belts out the woe-is-me blues before being blown to Oz in a mid-West tornado.
Landing in the magical land, Dorothy’s most pressing problem is the fact her now muppetized pet prawn, Toto, is naked. After outfitting the shady, smooth-talking little critter, she gets on with the bigger concerns of investigating her new surroundings. Luckily she encounters a friendly pack of rat Munchkins and the Good Witch (Miss Piggy) who celebrates the demise of one of her wicked sisters (Miss Piggy again) and sends Dorothy on a journey to meet the Wizard (Jeffrey Tambor).
Given a pair of silver shoes (that make her feel confident and sexy), Dorothy starts down the Yellow Brick Road where she rescues Kermit the Scarecrow, Gonzo the Tin Man and Fozzie the Cowardly Lion. But while attempting to reboot the Tin Man, Toto inadvertently touches two rivets, which turn out to be the robot’s nipples. That incident, along with CGI cleavage and sexual innuendo, brings a whole new level of adult-oriented subject matter to the script.
Along the way, the traveling companions also make a stop at Poppyfield’s, a nightclub where the red flower centerpieces have a sleep-inducing effect on the patrons. Unfortunately, Dorothy is rescued from a sluggish stupor only to be subjected to the evil whims of the Biker Witch who plans to cut off the enchanted silver shoes with a high-speed saw blade.
While the film contains the slapstick violence of the original, the content level is heightened by a confusing cameo appearance in which Director Quentin Tarantino tries to convince Kermit the Frog to finish off Dorothy in a kind of Kill Bill slash and stab finale. While Kermit stands strong on his own ending, it appears his view of family friendly fare wavered long before the movie’s conclusion. Given the spontaneity, charm and appeal of the original Muppet characters, when will moviemakers realize a film doesn’t have to be edgy to be entertaining?
Updated February 13, 2012
The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz Parents' Guide
Why does Dorothy think she will only find happiness outside of Kansas? Why do far off locations often seem more appealing than what we are familiar with?
What does the Wizard help Dorothy and her friends discover about their inner strengths and abilities?
The most recent home video release of The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz movie is August 8, 2005. Here are some details…
DVD Release Date: August 9, 2005
The DVD extras include outtakes and bloopers in the Oz Oops section. Pepe The Prawn also narrates a backstage look at the movie making process with comments from the stars—human and Muppet. Finally, Quentin Tarantino goes one-on-one with Pepe in an extended interview about the Muppets influence on the famous director. The movie is presented in full screen (1.33:1), and sports Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. It also includes English captions for the hearing impaired.
Related home video titles:
Highlighting favorites from the original Jim Henson show, The Best of the Muppets Volume 6 showcases some of the puppets early adventures. Judy Garland plays a young Kansas girl who is ready for a change in the 1939 classic film, Wizard of Oz.