Friday, April 3, 2009

Revisiting the Classics #1: The Wizard

I'd like to introduce a new feature here, a new on going, semi-regular segment called "revisiting the classics" in which we take classics and revisit them to determine if they are still classics.

Revisiting the classics #1: The Wizard -- 1989

Fred Savage lives with his father (Beau Bridges) and brother (Christian Slater.) They used to be part of a larger, happier family, but that ended when the youngest brother Jimmy went wacko after watching his twin sister drown in a river. Since then, Jimmy hasn't done much expect break apart the family, repeatedly try to run away to California, build things out of weird boxes, and carry a lunch box around with him at all times. The mother has long since divorced Bridges, and Jimmy lives with her and his new stepfather who does nothing but eat hot dogs.

Fred Savage decides to break his brother out of a mental hospital and try to make it to California. Bridges and Slater take off after them, and so does a private detective hired by their mother. Along the way they meet Haley, who also happens to be the coolest girl ever of all time. She helps them hitchhike their way to LA, and notices Jimmy is a video game prodigy. She tells them about a huge video game competition in LA, and they trek their way there, using her street-smart skills and Jimmy's video game prowess to hustle people out of their money along the way.

Slater, who brought his Nintendo with him (more on this later) bonds with his father over his new love of video games. Over the course of their journey, Bridges becomes such a gamer that Slater must do the work while the father plays the video games. In one side-splitting scene, Slater is busy at work in a junkyard fixing their truck. Bridges, who is has done nothing but play Nintendo, offers no help. Finally Slater has had enough, yells at Bridges and in a startling role reversal, UNPLUGS THE GODDAMN NINTENDO FROM THE WALL!!!

But back to the children. In some town they are told about some kid that's really really good at video games. They play him, but he opens up a box, and in the box is a power glove. He puts on the glove, and in the only time in the history of this device, nails it. He plays Rad Racer, and he's turning, accelerating, weaving back and forth between cars, man, you would think the power glove was actually not the biggest piece of shit of all time.

When the kids make it to Reno, Haley the Reno native, shows them all around the biggest little city in America. Here, a montage begins. Haley calls up Nintendo headquarters and a nice man walks her through all the games and gives her all the tips. Fred Savage brings the notes downstairs to where Jimmy spends his time playing all the video games in the hotel casino. All the while, some song that sounds that I wanna say is called "Live by the Rules" plays in the background. I also want to say it's Huey Lewis and the News.

Then it's off to LA. They arrive at Universal Studios and enter the competition. A few words. The place is packed with cheering kids, neon lights, balloons, weird confetti, and the stage looks like the final round on that short lived American Gladiators for kids show G.U.T.S. IIn short, if you were 6-12, there's no place you would rather be.

Anyway, the qualifying round is Ninja Gaiden, and Jimmy knows it well. But for the final competition, they pull a fast one, not a game you've ever played before, a new game, a game never seen before in America, SUPER MARIO BROTHERS 3. And who is Jimmy's biggest competition, power glove dude! Jimmy gets a little bit behind, but he gets the magic flute (pause) and warps ahead. Then, he gets the star at the end of the level (by jumping at a 45 degree angle of course) and wins.

On the way home there's some emotional shit that goes on when they stop to sit inside a dinasour and Jimmy talks and is done carrying his lunchbox around, but I'll spare you.

So The Wizard is a road trip movie, a movie glorifying video games, a complex film about a mentally disturbed child, and so much more. Is the Wizard a classic? Yes. Does it hold up? Yes. It makes you want to dust off your original Nintendo, blow on the games (pause), and spend an hour and a half trying to figure out how hard you have to push down on the games to keep the machine from blinking the red light on and off.

A footnote about Haley: she wears tight (sometimes white) jeans tucked into boots, she's really funny and makes fun of other people, sure of herself to the point of being cocky, rocks thrift store t-shirts, and is extremely sensitive towards smaller children. Could it be that seeing this film at a young age had a profound impact in guiding me towards my preferred type of woman? And how much longer must I wait till I do find a girl who is sensitive towards smaller children?

UPDATE: it turns out the girl that plays Haley is Rilo KIley. So I was right.


Blogger D-Tents said...

Let's not forget that this was bascially the greatest Nintendo commercial of all time.

4/4/09, 3:28 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

this movie pisses me off for one reason. The wizard, the one who performs the major accomplishment in the film, is not the one who gets the girl. That is like the janitor (the dude who played Roc) getting to bang a hot prostitute for being there when Rudy finally got to play football for Notre Dame

4/15/09, 7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, she is Jenny Lewis. She is in the band Rilo Kiley though. ;)

10/20/09, 2:40 PM  

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