Your kids have probably seen ads up the wazoo for “Oz the Great and Powerful.” But should they see the film? I took daughters Clara, 12, and Genie, 9, to a screening last night to get the scoop. We grabbed our 3D glasses and settled in for the spectacle, which explains how the Wizard came to rule Emerald City.
When we first meet Oscar (“Oz” for short), he’s a two-bit magician with a circus on the Kansas plain. He jumps into a hot-air balloon to escape an angry colleague, but as he floats away, a tornado strikes. When he touches down again, he’s definitely not in Kansas anymore.
Oz is even more eye-popping here than in the original film, with crystal flowers and glimmering rainbows. But this lovely land is menaced by a Wicked Witch, and the two sisters who safeguard it have been waiting for a Wizard to rescue them all.
Reluctantly, Oz sets off on the witch-hunt with two plucky companions. The first is a flying monkey, who, unlike his old-school cousins, is sweet as a fabric-softener bear. His other pal is a living china doll, aptly described by my older daughter as “the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.”
From here it’s a straightforward story of Oz trying to take down the witch: Think Zero Dark Thirty with munchkins. It’s also a touching tale of how Oz becomes a better man simply because his friends are all so good. James Franco, as the Wizard, drips rascally-cute charm, while Mila Kunis as a good-witch-gone-bad is both vulnerable and, later, intimidating.
My children barely blinked throughout the long (about 2 hours) film, and came out gushing about it. “I enjoyed that it wasn’t all about Dorothy,” Clara told me. “It’s nice to see Oz from a different perspective!” Genie was all about the Wizard’s monkey sidekick: “He was so cute and funny! I loved all the jokes!”, she told me.
But in the middle of the night, Genie crawled into my bed, visions of creepy forest creatures and cackling sorceresses dancing in her imagination. A half-hour later, I made room for Clara too—she wasn’t scared of the movie, but was scared to find Genie missing from their shared bedroom!
So is this a flick for the younger set? Definitely not. But for the 10-and-up crowd, it’s a great and powerful choice.
Are you planning on taking your kids to the movie? Let us know.