Welcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where we’re examining big budget megacheese this month. To that end, we’re watching 1989’s dubiously family friendly family film, The Wizard.
What’s The Plot?
A 13 year old boy (Fred Savage) sneaks his apparently autistic nine year old brother out of a mental institution and takes him on a cross country hitchhiking adventure to California. Along the way, they link up with a teenage girl/talented grafter and figure out that the nine year old has a near supernatural talent for video games. If they can dodge the adults looking for them long enough, they can win big bucks in a Nintendo tournament!
Who Made This Beautiful Garbage?
The film was actually produced by Nintendo, and boy does it show. There’s heavy product placement, most notably for The Power Glove, the Nintendo Power Line, and Super Mario Bros. 3 – which actually made its North American debut in the film. The plot, characters, and story clearly came second to the Nintendo commercial aspect…which is probably what gives the movie so much value as an oddity.
Five Reasons to See It
- The main villain of the piece is aprofessional runaway finder. While he is a raging jerk, it’s hard to take a guy who literally finds lost children for a living very seriously as a bad guy or to root against him hard enough for the crap he’s put through by the heroes OK.
- The female lead, Jenny Lewis, grew up to be a highly successful Indie Rocker. So to a certain audience, she’s now a bigger draw than Beau Bridges, Fred Savage, or Christian Slater.
- The announcer for the video game tournament should announce every movie sporting event ever, because his energy is amazing.
- Apparently, a childhood trauma can render you severely autistic. Which, unfortunately, isn’t the worst cause Hollywood’s posited for autism.
- “He’s good, but he’d never beat Lucas.” – A kid who hadn’t been speaking with the heroes before this line, talking about a character they haven’t met yet.
This movie has achieved cult classic status, and for good reason. It’s a feature length Nintendo commercial where the children are responsible and hyper-competent, the adults are useless and immature, and the Power Glove actually works. It’s a big hot ball of ridiculous fun, and is highly recommend.
NEXT WEEK: We watch a film RiffTrax’s Mike Nelson dubbed “The Cheesiest Movie Ever Made” and that had a goof commentary track by Kevin Smith on its Deluxe Edition DVD, 1989’s Road House.