Oz the Great and Powerful is a cinematic prequel to the Oz book series by L. Frank Baum but, let’s be honest, no one is looking at it that way. Most everyone sees the new movie as a prequel to the The Wizard of Oz. So, the question arises: do kids need to see The Wizard of Oz to enjoy Oz the Great and Powerful?
I say yes, Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz is an absolute prerequisite. The fun of Oz the Great and Powerful is learning how con man carnival magician Oscar Diggs came to rule Oz, why the Wicked Witch is so mean, and how it came to pass that Glinda the Good Witch travels via bubble. Kids’ brains are often bogged down with many, MANY questions, so give them the satisfaction of leaving the multiplex with answers to the mythology of Oz. Similarly, nothing may be better for a child’s self-confidence than already being in the know, so why deprive them of the opportunity to catch references and winks to the original?
On the other hand, kids tell me I’m wrong. Recently, four KidsPickFlicks critics ages 11-18 came together to discuss Oz the Great and Powerful. All believed it was unnecessary to see Dorothy’s story first. After all, Oz the Great and Powerful is a prequel – it sets up the classic film. It also tells a story of the man who becomes the Wizard, who is actually a minor character in the eponymous 1939 movie. In fact, my 11-year-old daughter believes the best way to experience the two films is to see Oz the Great and Powerful FIRST and THEN see The Wizard of Oz.
No matter the order, the movies have significantly different but important messages for little ones to hear. Being good is perhaps more important than being great, and truly, there’s no place like home.
Here are three movies to see with your family this week:
1. Oz the Great and Powerful. It’s PG, it’s fanciful, and it’s a whole lot of fun.
2. Life of Pi 3D. This visual wonder won four Oscars including for cinematography and special effects. The home viewing experience will never, ever measure up to the magic of seeing Pi and Richard Parker’s adventure on the big screen.
3. Jack the Giant Slayer. Think of it like The Princess Bride meets Die Hard. The intensity makes it for teens only, but it’s got something in it for both genders: dreamy Nicholas Hoult for girls, lots of
violence action for boys.
To find out what kids think about these movies, go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com , where all kids are movie critics.