The New Oz Movie

Well, after 28 years they’ve finally come out with a new Oz movie, and the critics already seem to be jumping all over it with hobnailed boots.

Fair enough. I haven’t seen it yet, so I have no idea whether it’s any good.

What I do question is the critics’ seeming universal claim that the original movie was an unparalleled classic of American movie-making, and the unspoken premise that it should be enshrined forever because it’s awesome, period.

I like “Wizard of Oz,” don’t get me wrong. It is a classic. It has some neat images (the colorchanging horse! The Art Deco Emerald City!) and a couple of good songs. It’s a fairytale quest flick, which I always appreciate, too.

… but.

But Judy Garland was in her late teens when she filmed this movie, and her dialogue would be better suited to an eight-year-old. But the Dorothy character doesn’t actually do a whole lot during the movie–she reacts to situations, sure, but mostly things seem to happen to her. And the characterizations are mostly paper-thin.

It’s a good movie, sure, but I’d argue that its strongest point is its setting, or perhaps the music– certainly not the characters, the plot or the script. Think about it: The yellow brick road. The Emerald City. The color-shifting horse, the angry trees, the flying monkeys, the dark forest and the field of poppies. All that is part of the setting.

And if the setting is great, why not revisit it and expand it?

I’m not saying the new movie is any good–I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know. I am saying that if you do see it, it’s probably best to view it as a standalone movie, or at least try not to remember the first flick through the rose-colored glasses of childhood.

Unless you’re seeing the new movie while you’re still a child as well, you’re not going to be making a fair comparison that way.