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The Wiz

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"You can't win!" -Scarecrow

The Wiz is a 1978 American musical adventure film adaptation of the 1974 Broadway musical of the same name directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Richard Pryor, Mabel King, and Lena Horne.

Despite being a critical and commercial failure upon its release, it has since been considered a cult classic among African American audiences, Oz enthusiasts, and fans of Michael Jackson.


Dorothy is a shy kindergarten teacher living with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in Harlem. One day, she and her dog, Toto are swept away in a blizzard to the magical land of Oz. She is told that she has to go find the Wiz in the Emerald City who can help her get back home. Along the way, she comes across the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, who also need help from the Wiz.

Bad Qualities

  1. Several unneeded changes to the original play and the source material itself (ex: making Dorothy an adult, having her live in New York instead of Kansas).
  2. Diana Ross as Dorothy is a little off. Diana Ross is not a bad actress, and her performance is fine, but Dorothy is supposed to be little girl, not a grown woman.
  3. Nipsey Russell gets to sing. To quote the Nostalgia Critic, instead of a heart, he should ask the Wiz for a singing voice.
  4. Michael Jackson gets one solo song without dancing, which is a huge waste of his talent. Also Russell gets 2 solo songs when he can’t sing.
  5. Unnecessary wide and distant shots. The most famous song scene "Ease on Down the Road" is shot from a distance and the camera is pointed at the actors' backs.
  6. Some poor set designs that try to imitate the original Wizard Of Oz from MGM.
  7. The land of Oz is ugly and disgusting.
  8. Too many songs with very little time to breathe (though some are good).
  9. There's a huge anticlimactic moment where Dorothy pulls the fire alarm and the sprinkler system takes the Wicked Witch out. Seriously?
  10. There's a dark moment where the Wicked Witch tortures Dorothy's friends that does not fit with the overall tone of the movie.
  11. The movie give away who the Wiz is too early.
  12. Director Sidney Lumet is better at directing dramas rather than musicals.
  13. The Tin Man's crying is really creepy.
  14. Nipsey Russell’s performance as the Tin Man is dreadful.

Good Qualities

  1. Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor (who has less screentime), Ted Ross, Mabel King, and Lena Horne give good performances.
  2. Some of the songs are good, especially the rendition of 'Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News'.
  3. There are no African American stereotypes, considering the fact that the source material and the film itself play a part in African American culture.


External links