‘The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz’ has its moments

[rating=3]Starring: Ashanti, Jeffrey Tambor, Quentin Tarantino, David Alan Grier, Queen Latifah, Kermit the Frog, Miss. Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great
Director(s): Kirk R. Thatcher
Writer(s): Teleplay by Debra Frank, Steve Hayes, Tom Martin, Adam F. Goldberg; Television Story by Debra Frank, Steve Hayes; Based upon the novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum

Ashanti accompanies (l. to r.) Gonzo, Pepe, Kermit and Fozzy down the yellow-brick road in 'Muppets’ Wizard of Oz'
Ashanti accompanies (l. to r.) Gonzo, Pepe, Kermit and Fozzy down the yellow-brick road in ‘Muppets’ Wizard of Oz’

To be honest, it has been a long time since I’ve really enjoyed a Muppet movie. I briefly caught some bits and pieces of The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz when it aired on ABC, and can’t say that I was that impressed. But watching it in its entirety on DVD, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. There are some good scenes, with bits of clever humor throughout, but nothing even remotely comparing to the magic of the early Muppet movies.

What holds Oz down is its star, Ashanti. She has a lovely singing voice, but acting is clearly not her profession. Perhaps it was the fact that she was acting largely against puppets, but her awkward delivery really hinders the film. I understand why they wanted to cast a singer in the role, but they could have looked at someone with a little more acting experience (heck, Disney would probably have done better casting Raven Simone from their own series, That’s So Raven!).

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‘The Muppet Movie’ retains its charm as Kermit turns 50

[rating=4]Starring: The Muppet Performers Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz
Director(s): James Frawley
Writer(s): Jerry Juhl and Jack Burns

Kermit, Gonzo and Fozzie Bear get together to entertain in 'The Muppet Movie'
Kermit, Gonzo and Fozzie Bear get together to entertain in ‘The Muppet Movie’

It’s hard to describe the magic of the Muppets to kids today. From my son’s perspective, he actually has very little interest in puppets on television. He’s more interested in cartoons and computer animated films. But put on the Muppets, and he’s off to his room to play with his toys.

I remember seeing The Muppet Movie for the first time on video when I was a kid. Not old enough to see it in the theaters, or remember doing so if I did, I remember loving the adventures of Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear. When I was younger, it was Kermit who I liked best, but over the years my attraction as shifted to his furry sidekick. There’s something about the wanna-be stand up comedian that makes me laugh all the time.

Read more‘The Muppet Movie’ retains its charm as Kermit turns 50