To say I was excited the movie was coming out is a heck of an understatement. I went opening night.
It was about the biggest piece of complete and total s#it I have ever seen in my life. To this day, after near forty years, I still think it is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. As my brother would say, it was a smoking dog turd. The people who made that movie—awesome people actually—had NO idea why the play was so wonderful. They turned it into something ridiculous. Diana Ross was too old to play Dorothy so they made her school teacher. She came from New York. The Land of Oz was this pretentious artistic version of New York. The yellow brick road was linoleum. Michael Jackson could certainly sing, but the removed the powerful bluesy song—“I Was Born On the Day Before Yesterday” and replaced it with “You Can’t Win” which I believe he wrote. I liked the song, but why did they have to get rid of the original?? Richard Prior was the Wiz and he couldn’t sing so they took out his show-stopping number. The winged monkeys were motor cycle gang members. And Lena Horn was horrible as Glinda (I know I will catch hell for this)—in the play she was young and incredibly sexy. Not some old woman floating in a hideous costume with little babies floating around her. They didn’t even get her colors right because she come from the part of Oz where everyone wears red. One of the most powerful numbers from the play, , was simply ruined.
Well, The Wiz Live!, sets things to right. They made a change or two I didn’t care for. Like they used “You Can’t Win,” instead of the “I Was Born On the Day Before Yesterday,” and they wrote a new Poppy Field piece of music and I can’t imagine why. They rushed her meeting Glinda and left out a piece there, but beside that?
I really liked it. Shanice Williams as Dorothy was no Stephanie Mills (as Dorothy in the original) but at least we saw Stephanie as Aunt Em and that warmed my heart. The music was wonderful and so close to all my memories, which made me happy. They added some modern slang and devises like turning Addapearl (the good witch of North) magick slate into an iPad, but that was funny and I didn’t mind. And she was played by Amber Riley from “Glee” and it was nice to see her again. Played an excellent Cowardly Lion. I was a little aghast when I heard that Queen Latifah was The Wiz, but she carried it well, and she did the spectacular number that Richard Prior couldn’t. The dance numbers were all right.
I would recommend this if you have the chance to see it. I saw it on Hulu (not Live!) and I was happy I didn’t have to wait until a DVD came out (and take the chance I wouldn’t like it). Now? I will probably get it.