The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz (2005)

Full disclosure, this wasn’t the movie I planned on posting today. Not too long ago I had picked up a copy of The Devil’s Rain, a 1975 cult movie starring William Shatner minus his eyes, Ernest Borgnine as a goatman, and was the film debut of one Mr. John Travolta. And it was… fine. The effects were nice and the story was kind of lame, but cult movies aren’t generally known for being conventionally good. After watching it at Movie Night I was preparing myself to write up a review, but… I just couldn’t. There was another movie that we watched the same night that haunted me. A confusing mess that just wouldn’t leave my brain, forcing me to inflict it on the world.

And so here we are, talking about the made-for-TV movie The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. We are all the result of the choices we have made throughout our lives, and somehow one of those choices for me was watching this. What a world, indeed.

Everybody knows the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Dorothy, Toto, silver shoes (ruby slippers in the movie literally every human has seen), Wicked Witch, blah blah blah. This doesn’t deviate very much from the story, just adding a Muppets flavor to it all. Dorothy is played by human singer Ashanti (probably best known for the song “Foolish” where in the music video she goes on a date with… wait, is that Terrance Howard?) with Kermit as the Scarecrow, Gonzo as the Tin Man, and Fozzy as the Cowardly Lion, and Miss Piggy playing all four witches. For the most part, the acting/puppetry is fine. I mean, for a TV movie.

The things that haunt me are the references. Sure, a Kelly Osbourne reference in 2005 is relatively topical, but still out of left field (especially when Ashanti literally is transformed into Kelly). But Quentin Tarantino shows up near the end with a pitch to regular-non-scarecrow-Kermit of a bloody final battle, even trying to work in–and this direct quote is in all caps because he was yelling–“A BIG, BUSTY VAMPIRE VIXEN, WHO EXPLODES IN A SEA OF CRIMSON BLOOD!” Incredibly on brand for Tarantino, but… what? Miss Piggy likes to “roll in the hay.” There’s a hideous computer generated woman who is supposed to be sexy but is actually nightmarish. Rizzo the Rat name drops Girls Gone Wild and Kermit references The Passion of the Christ. What?! Who was this for? I mean, the obvious answer is “small children while with their parents look in occasionally,” but these references still feel super weird. This movie is… certainly something.

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