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Muppets' Wizard of Oz DVD
Greg James (August 1, 2005)
- I found myself enchanted by "The Muppets’
Wizard of Oz". As a film it could have been better, but this was
far from the bomb many (including I) feared it could be. Since the project
was created as a made-for-TV movie I was not expecting cinematic gold.
The film may not be a timeless classic or the highlight of the Muppet’s
film catalog, but for a 2005 Muppet TV movie, it was extremely entertaining
and a lot of fun to watch.
movie reviewer once said that a reviewer should review comedies with their
back to the screen, and just watch whether or not people are laughing.
If they are laughing the movie works, if they aren’t then it doesn’t.
Based on that criteria I would have to say “The Muppets’ Wizard
of Oz” was a big success, because every time I watch the film with
a group of people they laugh at all the great gags, jokes, character interactions,
and general Muppet wackiness. The film was given some care in terms of
its DVD release; however the overall presentation and treatment still
falls short of many people anticipated.
The biggest complaint it that there is not a widescreen presentation of
the film. The movie was shot in widescreen, yet Disney decided to only
include a cropped full-frame picture here. However oddly enough, the disc
menus are widescreen and the trailer for the DVD was widescreen too.
That's not to say that there isn’t a nice sampling of extras though.
There are some little things like trailers for other projects and DVDs.
There is a “Backstage Disney: Pepe’s Exclusive Making Of”
featurette - this behind the scenes look runs just over 7 minutes, and
give a fun look at the making of the movie. Pepe (the King Prawn) leads
the viewer on a fast paced tour of the set, partaking in fun little interviews
with the Muppet characters, human guest stars, and director Kirk Thatcher.
This feature is fun, but really is just fun fluff – it does not
really give viewers any meaty behind the scenes substance.
would have been nice to hear how the idea of doing “Oz” came
about, how the Muppets were cast in the different roles, see some early
concept designs for the characters, talk about the puppeteering and performing
of the characters playing other characters, how the special effects were
done, interview a Muppeteer or two, and show us some real behind the scenes
footage. This is entertaining and it shows the fun atmosphere the Muppets
bring with them, but does not really show viewers much about the real
making of the film.
The next bonus feature is a blooper reel called “Oz Oops”-
the bloopers run almost 5 minutes and are of course hysterical because
the Muppeteers always stay in character allowing for some wonderful candid
moments. This is a true highlight of the bonus features. I could watch
Muppet flubs for hours.
last bonus feature is an “Extended Interview with Quentin Tarantino”
– which runs over 6 minutes in length. This interview between Pepe
and Quentin is extremely entertaining. Bill Barretta shows his great improvisational
skills as he jests and jokes with the famed director. Quentin is a huge
Muppet fan and the interview really allows him to “geek out”
with the Prawn. The two spend some time trying to cast the Muppets in
some of Quentin’s famous films, and talking about Quentin’s
overall experience filming his cameo in the film. Overall this is a fun
little feature that was entertaining (but not all the fulfilling –
I left still craving more actual information and substance in the bonus
The bonus features are quite funny and make the DVD somewhat well rounded
and balanced (considering it was a made for TV movie, I’m surprised
Disney made anything just for it). However some more insightful and “grown-up”
features would be nice, these just seems a little watered down, especially
when compared to past Muppet DVD releases (most notably “The Muppet
Christmas Carol” and “Muppet Treasure Island”). But
ultimately the real star of any DVD is the film itself, and in this DVD
the film is a bonus feature in itself.
When the film was first edited, ABC cut a lot of footage in order for
the special to fit 2-hour television block (allowing time for commercials).
The extra 20 minutes added to the film actually help it out a lot. Most
of what was cut were cute little one-liner jokes, but they really help
make the movie feel all that more Muppet-ish. Plus many scenes that were
added helped with the pacing and flow of the film.
of the reintroduced scenes include: a longer extended cut of Dorothy's
opening song “Kansas”; a bit more comedy when Dorothy arrives
to give her demo CD to the Muppet Star Hunt; her conversation in Munchkinland
is longer (involving more dialog, jokes, and a glimpse at “Oz for
Dummies”); there's a more to Pepe's cell-phone/agent gag; there
is a harmless Passion of the Christ gag when Dorothy meets the Scarecrow;
the Tin Thing explains the difference between men and women; Kelly Osborne
does a small cameo in the Emerald City; the Wicked Witch's song is longer
and uncut (including speaking lines from each member of the Electric Mayhem);
Pepe does some more flirting with Dorothy when they are on in the captured
in the witch’s castle; Angel Marie makes a disturbing (yet hilarious)
comment after the enchanted biker cap wears off; the Quentin Tarantino's
cut away is extended with an Anime pitch; and there is much more that
fill out the film.
Despite being only in full-screen, the film presented on the DVD seems
to work better on DVD - without commercial interruptions and with the
clarity that the format allows the movie which often makes great use of
color and cinematography. When I first saw the film on ABC I thought the
timing and pacing of the film was off, but now being able to see it on
DVD without interruptions (and with the extra scenes inserted) I think
that the pacing is much better. The film seems to flow a lot more naturally,
and there is a lot more Muppet wackiness that originally was missing.
In fact, with the new scenes inserted in, “The Muppets’ Wizard
of Oz” becomes one of the longest running Muppet movies to date.
time there is something new released dealing with the Muppets I'm always
excited to be there, watch it, and celebrate it. That said, I don't think
"The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz" is the one star film many
people are touting it as. However, Ashanti's acting abilities with the
Muppets can be painfully bad at times, and the pacing is not Oscar worthy.
However, there are many Muppety touches which I just loved to death. This
film is entertaining, fun to watch, hilarious, and a great Muppet fun;
and I would have to say that this is one of the best TV movies I’ve
seen in a long time. I find myself quoting the film throughout the day.
Most of the jokes still make me laugh, plus I can’t get half these
songs out of my head.
The DVD comes with a 5 dollar rebate if you buy The
Muppet Show Season 1 which is a nice little deal, being that the disc
is pretty cheap to begin with (however this does expire if you don’t
what you may be missing!
Learn the differences
between widescreen and pan-and-scan DVDs.