The Wizard of Oz
Rated G for General Audiences
Run Time: 101 minutes
Quick Take: The road to happiness is faithful, but never smooth -- especially in the land of Oz.
Magical Story Proves You're Never Too Old to See The Wizard
The magic of Oz draws in adults and children alike. We all start out in on the sepia-toned Kansas farm (think of old-timey photos). Then, together with Dorothy, we open the door onto a world of color and wonder and things never seen before. Munchkins, good witches, bad witches, nasty apple trees, blue-faced flying monkeys ... with every turn of the plot, there is a new visual marvel. And yet, there is that constant yellow brick road to follow.
Beyond the visuals, the film is filled with memorable lines ("Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore") and equally memorable songs ("Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead," "We're Off to See the Wizard," just to name a few). It's hard to beat lyrics that rhyme real words with invented ones ("rhinoceros" with "imposs-erus"). And there is a contagious joy to this fantasy/musical, where characters dance and sing so effortlessly, they seem to dare us not to sing and dance along with them.
Kids Will Like:
Every child has dreamed of a place far from the troubles (or just plain ordinariness) of home—a place filled with magic, where s/he is at the center of it all. And who wouldn't love to have three good friends to share a journey? Kids will sing along with the Muchkins' Lullaby League and Lollipop Guild, as well as the Wicked Witch's somber guards' song ("doh- we-oh . . . ") The films offers adventure and danger, but then a happy ending where wishes come true.
Parents Will Like:
The film is good pick just for the fun of it (as a child might see it), but there are moments of humor—and human quirkiness—that only adults are likely to catch. Kids may not understand what the phrase "a horse of a different color" means even as they watch the horse change colors. The interplay among the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion offers wordplay, too. ("That's you all over," the Tin Man tells the Scarecrow as the Scarecrow tries to explain where his stuffing is scattered.)
Adults often let Dorothy down. Her parents are gone, and her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry really don't help when Toto's in danger. The Wizard himself sails away without taking her back to Kansas. Dorothy's tears and fears are very genuine, which can be upsetting for young children. The witch can be very frightening, too, with her green face and death threats against Dorothy and her friends.
"The Wizard of Oz" was not the first or last children's movie to admit that life is not always simple and that there are no magical solutions to our sorrows. But it offers a touching reassurance that, if we just let ourselves find them, we usually have the answers to our problems within us.
Yes, you'll want to see the details and hear the songs over and over again.