There aren’t gonna be many jokes today. I was gonna do the normal shtick, talk about boobs, slam a twelve pack, trash an average film for being average, and then masturbate before bed. Everything was par for the course. Until I started talking to my friends about Oz the Great And Powerful. Turns out they hated it. That’s fine, everyone is entitled to their opinions.
But the more I listened to their argument the more I realized that adults watching this film don’t understand Oz is for kids. It’s not a place for cynicism or deep meaning. It’s a simple world with bright colors meant to entertain children. And, you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, more films should be so guileless. Here are a couple of bullet point arguments I ran into and why they’re basically bullshit. Oz isn’t for misanthropic adults but it’s unquestionably perfect for children.
It’s not raping your childhood:
Shut the fuck up unless you’re ninety. The Land of Oz has been reproduced and re-imagined at least thirty times before your father busted a nut into your mom. Oz, almost more than any other American property, is communal. It’s meant to be shared and recreated every couple of decades.
More than that. The easiest way to indoctrinate children into classic films is by using newer films. Obviously Oz the Great and Powerful is nowhere near The Wizard of Oz. You’re fucking stupid if you thought it would be. The musical is, arguably, one of the greatest films of all time. To compare them is like complaining that Twizzlers aren’t as fulfilling as a lobster dinner.
It’s All About Greed and Making Money:
Yeah… So is every other film ever made. So is everything in America. We live in a society built on capitalism. Artistic pride is a lie hipsters hide behind because they’re pissed about not making money off of their shitty Etsy page.
It’s all CGI:
Yes. It is. So is everything else in the cinema these days. At least it was good CGI, unlike Jack the Giant Killer.
Film, as a medium, is shifting toward spectacle because it puts butts in theater seats. If you want change go spend money on Amour instead of the Avengers. Otherwise stop fucking complaining. You created the Hollywood market we’re living in. Stop acting shocked when the Big Wigs plan accordingly.
It was stupid:
Have you seriously ever met a child? They’re stupid. They’re supposed to be foolish. The world is new and frighting. They’re trying to make sense of it and kid films are a way to teach them. That’s why kid’s movies generally deal with broad strokes, simple plot structure, and easy gags. They’re giving kids tools to build up to more complicated ideas.
If you want complex storytelling and adult themes go watch Mad Men and Breaking Bad like the rest of us for fuck sake.
Stop Being Cynical:
Seriously, I can’t argue this enough, Oz is rated PG. It wasn’t made for you, a cynical asshole. It was made for children who need to believe the world is a hopeful, magical place.
We’re just coming out of a very dark decade for children’s films. Zebras said, “Crack-a-lacking.” Chipmunks sang songs by the Black Eyed Peas. And, I can’t stress this enough, Johnny Depp started to break dance at the end of Alice And Wonderland. Every studio decided kids deserved pessimism despite the fact Pixar was cleaning up by teaching everyone sincerity was a viable commodity.
Thankfully, because studios are so slow to catch up, they’re finally starting to produce films with less pop songs and more morals. There’s been a slow regression back to sincerity. How To Train Your Dragon is the start of Dreamwork’s less ironic phase. Disney has even found footing after almost a decade of shitty cartoons. But, as sweet as Wreck-It Ralph tried to be, it was still filled with hipster lingo and fart jokes.
Oz, conversely, is pure sincerity. It’s gleaming and unassuming. Nothing too bad or scary happens to anyone. Everyone uses adult words from decades ago instead of new-age-slang. And the characters, even the evil witches, are good-hearted in a Saturday Morning Cartoon type way. For instance, even though The Mrs. Daniel Craig Witch is wicked, she still balks at the idea of killing people. She wants to rule the Emerald City. She just doesn’t want to hurt anyone to do it.
Oz the man, played by Green Goblin Stoner Dude, is slippery and does dubious things but never loses sight of his own humanity. In fact, the entire film is basically structured around him coming to terms with the fact that, as much as he thinks he’s evil, he’s a good man.
You know who doesn’t throw a punch the entire film? Green Goblin Stoner Dude. He’s the hero but he saves the day by using science and his brains. Seriously. How many films encourage kids like that?
Let’s Hear It For The Girls:
Here’s just another quick side-note- There aren’t a lot of good role models out there for little girls. Boys get heroes like Captain America and Batman. Girls get pop stars like Hannah Montana and iCarly. Oz has powerful women doing powerful things.
Dawson’s Creek Witch is sweet and lovely but has more power than anyone in Oz. It’s refreshing that the final battle isn’t between Oz and a Wicked Witch but between the Witches themselves. They don’t need Green Goblin Stoner Dude to save them. In fact, they use him as a pawn to accomplish their own goals. He’s just along for their ride and it’s delightful to see.
Let’s not forget the Little China Doll, who is equal parts adorable, sassy, and smart. She’s made of porcelain so she carries around a knife for protection. Game recognizes game and that little chick has it.
Alright, so there’s a lot of ideas thrown in there. But the central thesis remains. Oz isn’t for adults. But it’s a damn fun place for kids to visit.
Cynical Adult Grade: F+
Little Kid Grade: A-
Actual Grade: B-