The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz

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Rating: TV PG

Starring:
Steve Whitmire as Kermit the Frog/Rizzo the Rat/Beaker/Bean Bunny/Statler (voice)
Dave Goelz as Gonzo/Dr. Bunsen Honeydew/Waldorf/Zoot (voice)
Eric Jacobson as Miss Piggy/Fozzie Bear/Animal/Sam the Eagle (voice)
Bill Barretta as Pepe the Prawn/Johnny Fiama/Dr. Teeth/Rowlf/Swedish Chef (voice)
Ashanti as Dorothy
Jeffrey Tambor as The Wizard
Queen Latifah as Auntie Em
David Alan Grier as Uncle Henry
C. Ernst Harth as Earl
Quentin Tarantino as Himself
Edward Hibbert as Stage Manager
Brian Henson as Sal Manilla (voice)
Rickey Boyd as Scooter/Very Old Tom (voice)
Drew Massey as Sal Manilla/Clifford/Spotted Dick (voice)
Allan Trautman as Crow (voice)
John Henson as Sweetums (voice)
Tyler Bunch as Janice/Old Tom (voice)
John Kennedy as Angel Marie/Floyd Pepper (voice)
Alice Dinnean as Camila/Foo-Foo (voice)
Dan Payne as Weatherman
Kevin Clash as Clifford (voice)

Special Features:
Extended Film Version with 20 minutes not seen in the TV broadcast

Outtakes & bloopers

Pepe’s Exclusive Making Of

Extended interview with Quentin Tarantino with Pepe

Other Info:
Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 100 Minutes

Synopsis:
The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz originally aired on TV in 2005. The following is from the DVD cover:

“Join Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and all the Muppets as they turn everyone’s favorite classic tale into a musical madcap adventure that shines brighter than Emerald City! The fun starts when the Muppets team up with an all-star cast that includes Grammy Award winner Ashanti, Oscar(R) nominee Queen Latifah (2002, Best Supporting Actress, CHICAGO), David Alan Grier, Academy Award(R) winner Quentin Tarantino (1994, Best Original Screenplay, Pulp Fiction), and Jeffrey Tambor. Ashanti sparkles as Dorothy, an aspiring singer whose dreams of fame and fortune seem worlds away from coming true in the Kansas trailer park where she lives with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. But when a tornado transports her and Toto (Pepe the King Prawn) to the magical land of Oz, Dorothy meets the Wizard, who promises to make her a superstar — if she and her wacky new friends, the Scarecrow (Kermit), the Tin Thing (Gonzo), and the Cowardly Lion(Fozzie), can defeat Oz’s #1 diabolical diva, the Wicked Witch of the West (Miss Piggy)! Featuring original music, hilarious performances, and 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage, The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz will lift your spirits and blow you away!”

The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz is rated TV PG.

The Movie:
Unfortunately, The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz isn’t all that great. The songs are totally forgettable and most of the jokes are only mediocre. The few times the movie does generate real laughs aren’t enough to offset the rest of the film which is quite bland. I think the Wizard of Oz is too well known to be effectively parodied anymore. The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz also features some adult humor that I was quite surprised by. For example, Rizzo the rat says the Wicked Witch of the West needs to be “Witch Slapped”. While it’s admittedly tame by adult standards, it’s not something I want my toddlers going and repeating to their grandparents, on the playground, etc. There is also a very busty computer generated femme fatale that seems out of place in a family film. There are a few other examples of adult oriented humor as well. Because of the bland story and the inconsistent humor, the final result is one of the weaker Muppet movies.

Despite my displeasure with The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, I can point to a few humorous moments. An oddball cameo by Quentin Tarantino pitching an action sequence to Kermit the Frog was quite amusing. In another scene Kermit faces the Wizard and asks if he’s related to Frank Oz. One of the newer Muppets, Pepe the Prawn, also delivers some good laughs as Toto, Dorothy’s singing manager.

I would only recommend this movie to the most die hard Muppets fans. Otherwise you’re better off renting the first Muppet Movie and the original Wizard of Oz for a double feature.

The Extras:
The bonus features on this DVD are more entertaining than the movie itself. Here’s what you’ll find:

Outtakes & bloopers – These are your standard outtakes and bloopers featuring flubbed lines, clowning around on the set, and more.

Pepe’s Exclusive Making Of – Pepe the Prawn gives a tour of the set of The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. He interviews the entire cast and crew and his impromptu Q&A’s are quite funny.

Extended interview with Quentin Tarantino with Pepe – One of Pepe’s funnier interviews was with Quentin Tarantino and this shows the full interview. They joke about how he came on board, which Muppets he’d cast in his own films, and other funny stuff. I wish the movie had been as clever as this interview.

The Bottom Line:
Weak songs, a boring plot, and a lack of good jokes make The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz a disappointing addition to the series of Muppet movies.

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