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The Wizard

AKA:
 
 


Nintendo used this film to hype up the forthcoming (at the time) release of Super Mario Bros 3 on the NES, it sold 18 million copies worldwide when finally released, grossing $500 million. On top of all that Universal Studios paid Nintendo big licensing fees for the rights to use their products in the film.



More Trivia from The Wizard
So you like playing computer games, think you're pretty good? bet you can't beat The Wizard.

If you enjoy 80s films then you'll get a nice kick out of this one, ignoring the fact some people (not me) think it's a 95 minute advertisment for Nintendo, the story's pretty good and the film keeps on going at a steady pace, not focusing on any specific style, a nice all-rounder.

The film starts off with a long distance shot of a kid walking along a dusty road in the middle of a desert, we find out that the kid, Jimmy Woods (played by Luke Edwards) is autistic and is walking to California, along comes a plane and spots the kid who alerts the sheriff where the kid is, he's taken back to his mother where adults discuss putting him into a home.

Cut to his half brothers, Corey (Fred Savage, played Kevin Arnold in The Wonder Years) & Nick (Christian Slater, played Jason in the '89 film Heathers) sitting at a table with dad (Beau Bridges, played Frank in the '89 film The Fabulous Baker Boys) arguing about why the pickup had mud on it and Corey trying to tell brother & dad that his half brother is going to be put in a home.

Jimmy is put into the home, Corey is in his room listening to his dad & brother still arguing about drinking and taking the pickup without permission, he decides to run away but where, so throws some darts at a map of America on his wall and one lands on California. Corey decides to disappear off to the home and take Jimmy to California with him. Understandably the parents go nuts, Jimmy's mom & step-dad hire a bounty hunter guy to retrieve Jimmy, Corey's brother & dad decide to set off to find them too, but the bounty hunter doesn't like it because he won't get paid if he doesn't get to the kids first.

On their way to California, Corey puts Jimmy in front of a Double Dragon arcade machine and says "play" while he goes off to try and get bus tickets to LA, a police car pulls up outside and Corey grabs Jimmy away from the machine to hide but stops for a moment noticing Jimmy got 50,000 on Double Dragon. A girl, Haley, (played by Jenny Lewis) sees what's going on and goes to find out why they're hiding from the police, the conversation turns to video games and Corey bets Haley that Jimmy can "wax your tail" at Double Dragon. Her tail is waxed and they all miss the bus because of the game playing. Waiting around for the next bus they discuss their options, Haley realises that Jimmy is a wizard and thinks there's no way they'd put Jimmy into a home if he won the big video game contest in LA.

From then on Haley teams up with the half-brothers and the film turns into a great road trip movie, hitching & stealing rides wherever possible. Along the way they get money up by hustling video game players, one video game player in particular, Lucas, who is extremely good with a powerglove says he's entering the contest too. Jimmy bottles out of the showdown when he sees how good Lucas is at video gaming.

The brother and dad are still mad at each other but start to get along (hey what's an 80s film without differences resolved?). They also run into the bounty hunter a few times with disasterous results, the bounty hunter plays nasty and tries to stop them from finding the kids, the dad retaliates by crashing his pickup into the guys car a few times.

Corey, Jimmy & Haley eventually get to a big city where Haley uses a friend of her dad's to win some money at a casino so they can get heaps of quarters for video games machines to train Jimmy up in 97 different video games in preparation for the big contest in LA. Whilst there, the bounty hunter eventually tracks them down, they escape to Haley's home which appears to be in the middle of nowhere, the bounty hunter tracks them there, too and takes Jimmy. Haley calls a few friends and Jimmy is retrieved from the bounter hunter in great style (I won't spoil that bit for ya), then one of the friends gives the trio a lift to the Nintendo video game contest.

How does it end, does Jimmy win? I haven't given away the entire plot and I'm certainly not letting you know how it ended :)

Verdict?

I loved this film and am kicking myself I didn't discover it years earlier, it has a real 80s film feel to it, a lot of fun in the style where the good guys win, the bad guys get ruffed up, differences are dissolved, new friends are made and people go on a journey of discovery.

The kids play their parts well, the 'bad guys' parts are played just as well and if you were ever an early Nintendo fan then why haven't you seen this film before? (me, I'm more of a Sega fan.)

It has to be said there are a few cringeworthy, "I can't believe he just said that" type lines, but without them the film just wouldn't be the same.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: A computer games film that's actually fun.

Weaknesses? No Atari, no Sega.

Our rating: 9 out of 10


Review Written by Ridwan Hughes:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Ridwan Hughes
The Wizard