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Author Topic: The Wizard (1989)
Pyro
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O.K. I've recently come across quite a few reviews on this movie on youtube and other such sites tearing it apart for being such a lame movie. So, since this movie just barely qualifies as an 80's movie, (released Dec. 15th, 1989), I guess it's about time I give my two-cents on it.


The Wizard (1989) - (Starring): Fred Savage, Luke Edwards, Jenny Lewis, Beau Bridges, Christian Slater
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Plot(Wiki):

Jimmy (Edwards) is a young boy who has suffered from an unnamed, but serious mental disorder (strongly implied to be autism) ever since his twin sister drowned in a river. He doesn't interact with anyone, spending most of his time building things out of blocks or boxes, and he always carries his lunch box with him. He's determined to go to "California", at first the only word he can say since the tragedy. The trauma of the drowning and Jimmy's condition has broken up his family: he lives with his mother and stepfather, while his half-brothers Corey (Savage) and Nick (Christian Slater) live with their father Sam (Beau Bridges). When Jimmy is put into an institution, Corey breaks him out and runs away with him to California. Jimmy's mother and stepfather hire Putnam (Will Seltzer), a greedy and sleazy runaway-child hunter, to only bring back Jimmy, who competes with Corey's father and older brother to find the boys and sabotage each other's efforts.

Along the way, they meet a girl named Haley (Lewis), who is on her way home to Reno. Discovering that Jimmy has an innate skill at playing video games, Haley (who nicknames him "the Wizard") tells them about "Video Armageddon", a video game tournament with a cash prize of $50,000. She then agrees to help the two reach Los Angeles to participate in it for a cut of the money. By doing so, they hope to prove that Jimmy doesn't need to live in an institution. The trio hitchhike across the country, using Jimmy's skill and appearance to hustle people out of their money by playing video games.


My Review:

O.K., So being that I was a 10 year old hardcore NES Junkie when this movie first came about. I of course thought it was the most awesome movie EVER! So if I were reviewing this movie through my 10-year-old eyes again. I'd still probably be saying the same thing. But, being that it's now 22 years later and technology, video games, and movies themselves have come a long way since then. I'm forced to review this "mediocre" film through a nostalgic lens instead. I suppose I can say I am a little bit more mature than I was back in 1989 too, though not by much..lol. [Razz]

Now, don't let the melodramatic tone of the plot posted above fool you. Though that IS the actual plot, the film does everything in it's power to distract you from it. Though the main character Jimmy is mentally ill, he is portrayed as more of a video game playing puppet than anything else. So it's kind of hard to connect or feel very sorry for him. And thus, I found myself almost hating Fred Savage's character for kidnapping him out of the blue and encouraging him to act in this manner which would probably cause him further mental harm. But, that's probably just me over-analyzing a bit too much. They are just kids after all. And yes, we have a young Fred Savage in this film riding high upon his cloud of fame created from "The Wonder Years."

Tagging along for the ride and mooching off our two main characters is a young Jenny Lewis playing the part of Haley. A tom-boyish & street-wise hustler with an even wiser mouth that somehow works to the trios benefit in a few scenes. A rather awkward love story builds throughout the film between Haley & Corey. And we're also led to believe that Jimmy might have a bit of a thing for her too. This sub-plot is given a couple of minor and decent scenes for further development. But overall is tossed aside to get back to the main purpose which is more NES promo.

I think it's kind of funny that watching this movie now, my favorite character has to be Lucas. He's the stereo-typical, cocky, antagonistic, video game GOD that no one could ever beat no matter how much they tried. Another words, he was...ME!..Hahaha! Yeah, I was also that Cocky NES Master people loved to hate growing up cuz I was just too good..lol [Cool] ..Naw, I don't think I was ever that bad. But I get a kick out of his character nontheless.

 -
"I Love the Power Glove...It's So Bad!"
(yeah, probably one of the most over-quoted 80's movie lines ever.)

I also really enjoy the love/hate relationship between Beau Bridges & Christian Slater in this flick too. I still chuckle during a couple of scenes between them when they're on the road or sharing dumpy roadside motel rooms together.

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So anyway, as a whole, I think this movie would be pretty mediocre by today's standards for adults and kids alike. The plot given above actually plays more as a series of sub-plots to make way for the real purpose of this movie. A 100 min long commercial for various NES games and accessories. Most notably The Power Glove, and Super Mario Bros 3, (which had yet to be released in North America at that time). Throw in random screenshots of NES game play throughout the movie and also a climactic Universal Studios chase...And that's basically your movie. So IMO, if you took out all the NES stuff and just focused on the sub-plots, then this movie isn't really that bad at all. But, as is, it's pretty shameless and cheesy.

So for a 10 year old back amidst the rise of popularity of the 8-bit NES glory days, this movie was beyond awesome. But, for a matured grown-up looking back on it 22 years later...this movie is...passable I guess at best. If anything, still a good watch for nostalgic purposes I suppose.

My Rating:
6 magic flutes out of 10

[ 05. June 2018, 20:56: Message edited by: Pyro ]

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Devolution
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Devolution here,

The funniest part of that is the fact that they knew where all of the shortcuts and tricks were to a game that hadn't come out yet.

It's the first video cheat of all time.

We are DEVO

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Pyro
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Ahhh yes, I almost forgot about that Devo. Yeah, they knew exactly where to find those hidden areas, and they never even had seen the game before. And in actuality, none of those things actually improved your overall score in the game. I don't remember getting bonus points for finding a flute, warping, or getting a star at the end of a level. So yeah, that entire final showdown scene is extremely bogus. The way Jimmy was playing Lucas should have beat him easily.

[ 11. February 2017, 11:37: Message edited by: Pyro ]

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Veronica Sawyer
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Loved this movie when I was a kid! Still kinda love it now. Pyro, you forgot to mention the soundtrack which included songs by NKOTB and Bobby Brown lol. I got to meet Jenny Lewis several years ago after her band's concert in Chicago. She looked pretty much the same! I didn't dare mention the wizard to her though...
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aTomiK
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I think that while this is still a nice and decent movie,
it´s nowadays more a fantastic time-capsule back to the days when NES was the king.
Shameless promo - yes, but they had the money and the will to do it and i´m sure that it paid off.

The cast did a decent job and the story is your basic "underdog beats the odds" stuff
and there´s lots road movie feel in it too.

Seeing Beau Bridges play NES video game looked hilarious, i´m sure it was his first time ever [Big Grin]

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The Good Package
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i thought lucas was a dork. he seemed to me to be someone who was trying to cling to some sort of talent to gain a identity out of it. the truth of it is he comes off as a spoiled rich kid, he has to be rich, nobody could afford that many games back then without excessive moolah.

then he gets defeated by savage's little brother and this great world that he created for himself in his mind comes tumbling down and he enters a state of depression, spending the rest of his life wallowing in self pity, to me he is the funniest character of the movie because of this

also this seems like a kid version of the movie rain man

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The Good Package
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anybody think maybe savage could have done the home alone part better than culkin?
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Valley

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So you're saying that my power glove is out of style?

[ 28. March 2012, 17:45: Message edited by: Valley ]

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Pyro
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quote:
Originally posted by The Good Package:
anybody think maybe savage could have done the home alone part better than culkin?

Honestly, no I don't think he could have.
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Bernie_Lomax

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I might go to a few nightclubs this weekend wearing my power glove and see what happens.
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SHOGUN
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nice little film. Lucas reminded me of Corey Haim..
nice songs/soundtrack..

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Pyro
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quote:
Originally posted by Veronica Sawyer:
Loved this movie when I was a kid! Still kinda love it now. Pyro, you forgot to mention the soundtrack which included songs by NKOTB and Bobby Brown lol. I got to meet Jenny Lewis several years ago after her band's concert in Chicago. She looked pretty much the same! I didn't dare mention the wizard to her though...

Oh yes, my bad..I should have mentioned the soundtrack too. It's a pretty good one. But I guess it just didnt stand out as much in this film for me.
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Nostalgic for the '80's
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"The Wizard" is a great film; I was a big fan of video games back in the '80's, especially Atari games - and this movie brought to mind afternoons spent playing these, both at home & sometimes at the arcade.

By the time '89 rolled around (when this film was released), I had kind of "lost touch" with the current video games, so wasn't specifically familiar with any of the games showcased in the movie to any great extent.

I did get back into video games in the '90's, when "Mortal Kombat" and "Street Fighter" became popular.

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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Just a heads-up: The Wizard was recently released on Blu-ray in the U.S. (Region 1).

Recently re-watched the film (though not on Blu, on the older DVD). Fantastic movie, with a very touching, sad, and ultimately uplifting story. Several points:

1) Nice to see the scenes of downtown Reno, Nevada - the "biggest little city in the world". I've never been there, but have enjoyed seeing the city featured in films like The Wizard, California Split, etc.

2) Near the end of the film, one of Lucas Barton's cohorts was played by a very young Tobey McGuire - in a non-speaking cameo. I think this was his first film. Much later, McGuire played Peter Parker/Spider-man in the 200X Sam Raimi films.

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