Oz the Great and Powerful
Rating: In describing Franco’s wizard, “Great and Powerful” does not come to mind.
While Oz the Great and Powerful is not a bad movie, it definitely is not a good one either. James Franco is lost in his role as the future wizard, and he is far more annoying than likeable.
As anyone who has seen the original Wizard of Oz (1939) knows, the wizard was a fraud. We all learned that his phony image dissipated if you dared to “Look behind the curtain.”;
Accordingly, if he was little more than a two-bit magician in old age, how could he have been much different as a young man? Franco answers that question, and it is not pretty to watch. He is a Lothario constantly on the make, and it is fundamentally impossible to try to figure out how even a worn-out floozie could find him attractive.
Furthermore, the fundamental flaw in this movie is also its only strength. Women are simultaneously insulted as they proceed to demonstrate their strength. Every woman in this film, which includes two witches, wants to get laid by Franco’s stumbling idiot the moment they meet him. Regardless of their intellect or social standing, their heart belongs to the Oz man from the first encounter. If Gloria Steinem was in the theater, she would be forced to apologize after she vomited in her seat.
On the other hand, most of these women are also full of some aggressive piss and vinegar. Rachael Weisz plays Evanora, a nasty woman with an attitude who knows that Franco would benefit from a quick death.
Mila Kunis, her sister named Theodora, is quickly transformed from an adoring airhead to a demented slut with a bad chin after meeting Oz. As I watched Ms. Kunis’ horrid transformation, I thought that she should take it as a warning if she continues her relationship with Ashton Kutcher in private life.
Finally, Michelle Williams appears in separate roles. She is the good girl named Annie who loved her clueless wizard before he flees to the land of Oz. She then appears as the witch Glenda, another good girl with the same goal, namely marrying a fraud with the personality of a toad.
I must say that the film is helped along by a few supporting actors. While Zach Braff is largely forgettable in two separate roles, Joey King is memorable as a little girl in a wheelchair as well as the voice of the China Girl who looks to Franco for help. Before the Land of Oz enters the picture, you know how condemnable Franco is when he quickly disappears from his own stage after this little girl begs him to use his magic to help her walk.
I should also note that the wonderful “wee man”, Tony Cox, plays Knuck, a resident of Oz with a nasty attitude. Like he did in Bad Santa (2003), he is perfect as a good guy loaded with venom.
I have great respect for Director Sam Raimi, and he has done some very good work. Take a look at Dark Man (1990); A Simple Plan (1998); a great baseball movie For the Love of the Game (2000) and the first Spiderman film (2002). However, this rendition of Oz carries the same lackluster feeling as the last two Spiderman films, so I think it would be advisable for Mr. Raimi to simplify his artistic approach.
While I know this may border on a sacrilege, let me finish my review with a modest rewording of Judy Garland’s original theme song:
We’re off to see the wizard, the horniest Wizard in Oz
We hear he is a loathsome wiz, if ever wiz there was
With his buckle loose, zipper down, the Wizard is on the make
Because, because, because, because, because
Because of the seductive things he does
We’re off to see the wizard, the horniest Wizard in Oz.