Director – Todd Holland (Max Headroom, Tales from the Crypt)
Starring – Luke Edwards (Jeepers Creepers 2, American Pie 2), Fred Savage (Little Monsters, The Twilight Zone), and Jenny Lewis (Plkeasantville, Bolt)
Release Date – 1989
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 4/5
Tagline – “They’re on a cross-country to the world’s greatest video championship. But for these three, it’s more than a game…it’s the chance of a lifetime.”
Many of you that are not new to my reviews know about my love for movies. I grew up in the local video store. I studied the shelves and knew almost every movie on them. Horror took hold of me in elementary school but until then I rented every genre.
I remember renting The Wizard once when I was a kid. I don’t remember a lot about the movie but I do remember only renting it once. I was notorious for finding a movie I love and renting it several times before moving on to the next so it was safe to say that I didn’t love it. I never revisited this one but when Shout Factory announced a blu release as part of their Shout Select line I decided to give it another spin. I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a copy my way. Thanks guys!
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows the kids of divorced parents forced to live in different homes. Jimmy (Edwards) is unlike his brothers. He is a twin that is showing signs of mental disability after the death of his sister. He runs away from home to head to California because his mom and step-dad are unable to properly care for him and are discussing putting him in a home. When his brother Corey (Savage) hears he runs away from his dad’s to get Jimmy and they make their way to California. Along the way they meet Haley (Lewis) who is more street wise than the two and agrees to help them. However, they soon discover that he is very talented with a video game paddle and decide to enroll him in an upcoming video game tournament. It’s a race against the clock to get to the tournament before the bounty hunter paid for by the boy’s mother stops them so he can return them home for the money. **Spoiler Alert**
I don’t remember a lot about my first viewing of The Wizard but as an adult I appreciate what it brought to the table but I can see why I never gave it a second viewing when I was younger. It does reach a dry spell but the story is still pretty solid.
The acting in this one is pretty solid and definitely fits the decade. Savage was very well known by this point and would go on to appear in several more iconic films and television shows of the early 90s. With that being said, his character is painfully annoying and, honestly, the story would have still worked if his character was cut out completely. Luke Edwards is the unsung star of the film and his non-verbal performance is great. He does a phenomenal job in his role. Sometimes not talking while conveying emotions is a tremendous strain and he pull it off. The supporting cast is great as well but these two carry the most weight in the film.
The story for this one is a cross country adventure meets the underdog sports movie. In fact, I can even see little pieces of Rad in there with the underdog versus the pro which was nothing new when Rad was released but almost comical considering I had just watched Rad before spinning this one. The story works for what it is but there is several dry scenes where the film tries to establish some character development with the secondary characters.
Finally, no blood and guts in this one. Instead, we get a character driven adventure film that centers itself around Nintendo pop culture. Overall, The Wizard is another time capsule of a movie. It is definitely a product of the time but it still holds great value for those of us with a fondness for 80s cinema. I didn’t appreciate this that much as a kid but I had fun with it now. The blu looks fantastic and I highly suggest you grab a copy from Shout Factory.
The Road to Cali-Forn-ia – Look Back at The Wizard
How Can I Help You? Confession of a Game Play Counselor”
A Clinical Analysis of The Wizard
Post-Screening Q and A