After the Wizard
This is the first time I’ve written for Best For Film. I can only assume they’re inundated with writers and don’t want the hassle of getting rid of me, so have got this film to do their dirty work. That, or it’s some sort of initiation process to get given a God-awful film in the hope that I’ll sit gasping at the bottom of this review, gazing upwards at the seeming impossibility of finding 500-words’ worth of ways to say: don’t watch this. So, instead: DO watch this. It’s not often you gawp in disbelief at how many marks can simultaneously get missed.
We start with a schoolgirl called Elizabeth (Van Vranken), who really really believes that she’s Dorothy. Her headmistress (Helen Richman) – who has the slightly off-focus gaze of an elderly woman standing in her living room trying to remember what she came in to get – thinks it’s all in her head. The filmmakers could have chosen to create a little suspense here – Oz is in trouble, the Tin Woodman (Richman) and Scarecrow (Nakia) set out to find Dorothy, but will they? Do they exist on too separate a plane ever to meet again? – but no, they stumble into the school library in the opening minutes of the film, so we’re forced to watch the unfolding of a search to which we already know the outcome.
Alright chaps, we missed a trick there, but how about we make the unfolding funny and eventful? Let’s throw these two citizens of Oz into the craziness of the modern world. Let’s make them use PUBLIC TRANSPORT. Let’s confuse them with MONEY. Let’s create a little hilarity because EVERYONE RECOGNISES THEM but they NEVER GET THE JOKE. I know, let’s illustrate the grittiness of the New York subway system with a shot of a middle-aged couple arguing about going to her mother’s! YEAH!!
And so it goes on. Meanwhile, back at the school, Elizorothy is sitting in a classroom/library/headmistress’s office under gaudy lighting, protesting her clear-mindedness in dialogue not unlike the few minutes of stilted, over-exaggerated ‘acting’ you get before everyone starts taking their clothes off in a porno. This child-actress is capable of at least one facial expression, so I’m sure her parents are proud, although that’s nothing compared to the relief felt by the parents of all the kids that didn’t get the part. I won’t tell you how it ends (dog, tornado, change of heart) because I’m not sure I’m allowed, and I wouldn’t want to spoil it. Plus there’s so little build-up that, if you don’t keep an eye on the time, you start to worry that it’ll never end, and I don’t want to curtail the UTTER RELIEF you will feel when the credits roll by telling you which scene is the last.
In places this film does that thing that makes you think they MUST be having a laugh, like a lingering shot of a bus pulling up to a roadside, or YET ANOTHER delivery of “my name is DOROTHY!” from the gormless Elizabeth, so perhaps I just don’t get it. On the other hand, I have really low standards, and even I thought it was shit. I think it’s probably the latter.