Every Friday night, Fandango.com sends cinephiles (and newlyweds) Sarah and Joe Piccirillo to see a film. Afterwards, they answer a few questions about it. Below is their discussion.
Synopsis: In this sort-of prequel to The Wizard of Oz, a tornado sweeps Oscar Diggs (James Franco) away to the land that bears his name. There he meets three witches (Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis), a talking monkey (Zach Braff), and the people of the Emerald City. Will he be the leader they’ve been waiting for?
Was This A Good Date Movie?
Sarah: This is not a good date movie, but that’s sort of irrelevant because this isn’t really a movie for adults at all.
Joe: Yeah, agreed. A scorned woman figures prominently in the plot so don’t bring your date here first if you plan to dump her.
Sarah: Well, it could certainly bring up questions about monogamy.
Joe: So, yeah, definitely not a date movie.
How Does This Measure Up Against The Wizard of Oz?
Sarah: I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz every year on TV, so it was neat to see updates of the familiar characters and sets. A lot of the detail and geography felt the same - the spiral of yellow brick in Oz, the field of red poppies around the Emerald City, the witch’s castle…
Joe: Yeah, I didn’t pick up on that at all.
Sarah: There’s one scene that is so faithful to the "original" that it feels like a shot-for-shot remake with Dorothy swapped out for Oz.
Joe: Except it’s not a remake. Disney doesn’t own the rights. And once again, they ruin everything by jamming their hands into the honey pot.
Sarah: Please tell me you mean cookie jar.
Joe: It’s not enough that they acquired Pixar and immediately sullied the brand by commissioning direct-to-video sequels of all of their hits; now, they’re making prequels of movies they don’t even own. Look at the scenes with the imperial guards.
Sarah: Do you mean the Winkie Guards?
Joe: Is that really what they’re called? In The Wizard of Oz, they chanted, "O-EE-O." Screenwriters now have them yelling, "OH-OH-OH!" It’s like they’re channeling a pornographic Sam Kinison.
What drove you nuts?
Joe: In a land with bell-tolling flowers, singing piranhas, spell-casting apples, fireball-throwing witches, and morality-testing force fields, why do people marvel at the existence of glue?
Sarah: James Franco. I just don’t understand. He’s never better than the lead in a high school play. He was too cool for banter with Anne Hathaway during the 2011 Oscars, but here he’s whistling gamely to a CGI fairy piranha.
Joe: In a movie filled with witches and talking monkeys, he played the only human and I still didn’t buy it.
Sarah: I thought the movie had a potentially redeeming plotline that they sort of squandered. There was a point where science was thrown a bone and creative inventions were key to defeating the witches -- I’m bummed that was played to so little effect.
What will you be thinking about afterward?
Joe: I don’t understand how you can have a prequel to a dream. Also, the message here is "fake it ‘til you make it," which is not as heartwarming as "there’s no place like home." At least in both movies, Oz hands out crappy gifts.
Sarah: In true superhero-movie form, they gave one witch a tragic backstory. Actually, they gave her a similar misunderstanding-based backstory to that of James Franco’s character in Spider-Man, which was also directed by Sam Raimi. And James Franco has all the natural acting ability of Bruce Campbell, who was in the Evil Dead series, also directed by Sam Raimi. My mind is blown.
Sarah and Joe are writers/editors who live in Boston. They met in a bar and married within a year. They love to argue about early Woody Allen films and old romantic comedies. They both agree to hate musicals.