'Oz' Alternates Between Boring and Scary
March 11, 2013
'Oz' Alternates Between Boring and Scary

Julie Samrick
Kid Focused

In Oz the Great and Powerful, Professor Oz (James Franco) is a shady traveling magician, scraping by while performing his con-man show across the "dusty podunks" of the Midwest.  When he returns to Kansas, an ex-girlfriend, Annie (Michelle Williams) tells him John Gale has proposed to her, reminding the viewer of Dorothy Gale and that this could very well be a clever prequel to The Wizard of Oz.  Not so. Nothing more is mentioned of the Gales, and this interaction is just the first of Oz's romantic entanglements throughout the rest of the movie, not based on, but compiled from the works of novelist L. Frank Baum. 

Oz flees Kansas and the people he has duped via hot air balloon just as a tornado approaches, carrying him to the faraway land of Oz. There, he must convince three witches, as well as the people, that he is their rightful ruler.  The land, after all, does carry his name.

The best part of the film is the Oz setting.  The movie begins in black and white - just like The Wizard of Oz does - but once Professor Oz touches down in the landscape of the Emerald City, the colors and detail won't disappoint.

Yet this story is nowhere near as good as the original. No wonder it's taken 75 years to make another movie about Oz. It would've been better left alone.

The movie is rated PG for scary parts, and there are sexually charged scenes that Oz shares with multiple women. The tornado scene is loud and scary for viewers under 9, and lasts several minutes.  There are several scenes where witches and minions howl or jump into the camera, startling viewers. I saw Jack the Giant Slayer last week and thought if that film was rated PG-13, this one should be too.  I actually think Oz the Great and Powerful is a scarier movie.

When it's not scary, there are long, drawn-out scenes.  Oz travels on the yellow brick road away from the Emerald City on a witch hunt.  He picks up several friends along the way, but none of them are as endearing as the yellow brick road friends we know and love.

There are some allusions to the original, beloved "Wizard of Oz," but not enough to make the trip to the theater.  For diehard fans, I recommend waiting for the movie to come out on DVD.

Kid Focused Grades for Oz the Great and Powerful
Compelling story line - C (viewers will enjoy looking for connections to the classic tale, but that's it)
Strong message - C- (being a con man has its rewards?)
Leading character is a role model - C-
Sexual content - B- (Oz passionately kisses several women and strings them along; this is a major part of the plot)
Violence - C (Loud, violent action throughout)
Suited for the whole family - C (not for children under 9)
Overall Grade: C
Oz the Great and Powerful, Rated PG
Running Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom of four young kids and the founder of Kid Focused, a site devoted to children and family issues.  Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox and connect with us on Facebook too.  Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

Posted by Staff at 12:00 AM