Director: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Lena Horne, Richard Pryor
Synopsis: Yet another take on the Oz mythology, very much a blaxploitation film taking advantage of the talents of some of the late ’70s most popular musical artists.
A review by Film Nerd.
This review I admit comes very late, having completed my other three Oz reviews perhaps two months ago. Those of you that may have followed comments made on those posts would have noticed KTBell’s offer to lend me her copy of The Wiz to complete the set. This weekend, that promise came to fruition, and I have now come full circle. So firstly, thank you vert much to KT, my OCD requirement for completeness has now been satiated.
My profuse thanks, however, does not extend to the film itself. I have never been a big fan of blaxploitation films, and this particular addition to that genre has done little to change my mind. That is not to say the film is devoid of merit. The music is often toe tappingly good, and there is no denying the vocal talents of the cast. Diana Ross and Michael Jackson had some of the best pipes in the business, and they got a work out in this film.
What the film lacked though was largely in the acting department and in pacing. The acting is forgivable if you take this film as an exercise in entertaining the kids, in which case being a little over the top in that era was pretty much the norm. Regardless, it does not distract from the film, I am perhaps being overly critical given I knew I would be reviewing this film. The pacing however, was at times torturous for me. 2 hours and 13 minutes is not too long a film, given we get 3 hour epics these days, but in the context of this film, I was on the verge of sleep at points. The main pacing error was in the length of many of the musical numbers. Designed to show off choreography and bright colours, it didn’t take the film anywhere. If you like this stuff, great, but I was reminded of the ballet dream sequence from Oklahoma, which also had me stifling yawns.
As an extended music video, this film works well. As a bit of nostalgia and a laugh at late ’70s cinema, it is also a gem, but for me, it is not one for repeat viewing. Please don’t be offended KT, love that you lent it to me, and my OCD is satiated as I said, not my cup of tea though!!
2 stars (out of a possible 5)
The Wiz on IMDB
The Wiz on Rotten Tomatoes