THE WIZARD (1989)
Jimmy, a young traumatized boy, and his older half-brother Corey (Fred Savage) head on a road trip together when Corey takes Jimmy out of the home he has just been placed in. Their destination is California, but with no money and no real plans how to get there, they may just be stuck in Utah. Fortunately, they cross paths with Haley, a hard-edged twelve-year old, who agrees to help them get to California when she sees that Jimmy is a video game prodigy and thinks he can win Video Armageddon.
Meanwhile, a seedy private investigator has been hired to find and return Jimmy, but Corey and Jimmys father (Beau Bridges) and Nick (Christian Slater) also head out on the road to find him first. Through a series of clues left behind, both follow the trail of Jimmy and Corey all the way to Los Angeles, where the video game championship is being held. There, Jimmy must face off against Lucas, a rival gamer he has met on the road, who will stoop to the lowest level a thirteen year old can to win.
Lets face it. This is essentially a 100-minute promotional tool for Nintendo and Universal Studios Theme Park, and to bring the first footage of Super Mario Brothers 3 to a nation of ravenous preteen video gamers shortly before its release in 1989. There is more than enough footage of Super Mario Brothers games, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ninja Gaiden and Double Dragon, plus a host more games that are name dropped, which probably lead to every kid in the theatre turning around and buying the games right after they watched the movie. For viewers that have spent way to many hours playing games, it is amusing to see just how many times audio, visual and factual errors are made on the games being played. And just how did Haley and Corey know what to do in SMB 3 just moments after Jimmy started playing it?
Beyond the blatant advertising though, lies two parallel road trip journeys which serves as a not so subtle metaphor for family bonding. On Corey's adventure, he begins to see a larger world and thoughts turns from simply thinking that Jimmy will automatically get better if he is just given time to realizing that he does need to work through his pain. On Nick and his father's trip, the distant relationship between the two as set up in the beginning of the movie begins to heal through tragedy. There is also some role reversal, as the father becomes more exited and immature, and Nick starts to take on responsibilities for the first time.
As this is a movie geared towards kids, there are elements of children versus adults, and that anyone over the age of sixteen is the enemy. This theme is repeated several times throughout the film. Also, the kids are a lot more hip and witty than any real thirteen-year-old would ever be. This film is a lot of fun to watch though, and certainly instills an adventurous wanderlust in the viewer, who will probably long for the days of sunny Saturdays spent tromping through the woods or across town on some exotic journey.
In conclusion, if you have a Nintendo emulator on your computer, this movie is worth picking up. If you remember having a crush in the eighties on Savage or Slater, this movie is worth picking up. If you enjoy highly-improbable kids quest movies, this is worth renting. If you dont know what a Power Glove is, stay as far away from this movie as you can.