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This workmanlike movie musical lacks the electricity of the stage version (and its cinematic inspiration), but it's bolstered by strong performances by Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

When Harlem schoolteacher Dorothy (Diana Ross) tries to save her dog from a storm, she's miraculously whisked away to an urban fantasy land called Oz. After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the East upon her arrival, Dorothy is told about the Wiz (Richard Pryor), a wizard who can help her get back to Manhattan. As Dorothy goes in search of the Wiz, she's joined by the Scarecrow (Michael Jackson), the Tin Man (Nipsey Russell) and the Cowardly Lion (Ted Ross).

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Critic Reviews for The Wiz

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (19)

  • So much wit and talent and energy crowd the screen in this lavishly filmed variant of the Oz story that it is depressing to realize that the production never had a chance.

    March 26, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Director Sidney Lumet has created what amounts to a love letter to the city of New York, which he equates with Oz.

    March 26, 2019 | Full Review…
  • It's good that the Scarecrow is the first traveling companion she meets; Michael Jackson fills the role with humor and warmth.

    June 16, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • If you can take it just as an occasion for the exercise of some real talents, a good time can be had much of the time.

    April 11, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Sidney Lumet's spectacular, joyous production of The Wiz generates a mood of wonder and sentimental rapture recalling the arrival of the Mother Ship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

    December 18, 2015 | Full Review…
  • On the plus side are vast, brilliant sets by Tony Walton, a couple of well-staged show-stoppers, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, and Diana Ross who, as Dorothy, is just gorgeous.

    September 28, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Wiz

  • Jul 22, 2016
    "Ease on down, ease on down the road." Blaxploitation comes to Oz with The Wiz, a Motown interpretation of L. Frank Baum's classic fairy tale. Based on a Tony Award-winning stage musical, the story follows a Harlem kindergarten teacher who's swept up in a blizzard and lands in a fantastical urban city called Oz that's full of strange and magical people. Starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, and Richard Pryor, the cast is quite impressive. And with Quincy Jones arranging the music, they would seem to be in good hands. However, most the music is rather poor and doesn't carry the exposition very well (the way a musical should). Also, while there's a lot of interesting set and character designs, on the whole it has a very grungy post-apocalyptic look that's rather off-putting. The Wiz is a novel take on The Wizard of Oz tale, but it doesn't quite work.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 12, 2011
    With the charm bringing by the stars and the director Lumet, The Wiz, isn't a film really good. Showing along the picture an expectable end and apparent offend the intelligence of the audience, just like the scenes where Scarecrow, desperate for a brain, clearly presents beautiful citations and most of the ideas, as like Tinman crying and want a heart and the coward Lion exhibit an great courage. Neither L. Frank Baum's novel and the 1939 version show to be so expectable. The screenplay by Joel Schumacher are weak, but in some moments presents criatives parts. The dog that make the character of Toto is terrible too with awful trained, Ross have a few good scenes, but her acting flaw too, Dorothy looks old and neurotic. The slowed and dramatic song perform by her leave the film boring and rotten, by the way the "Ease On Down the Road" sing by Dorothy and Scarecrow are very good, but very repeat. Another songs are nice, what better the movie, the same thing with the art direction, cinematograhy and costumes are perfect. Richard Pryor and Ted Ross presents a good actings too, for me the best in the picture. The Wiz is a nice movie, but could be much, much better. Anyway Sidney Lumet's version impress for his criative dark humor, some good songs, the all cast formed of black actors - another criative thing in this film -, the art direction and the hard attempt of Schumacher and Lumet on make an terrific movie, what unfortunately isn't, but this is for me a little cult piece of art with surrealism and smart minds. Rotten.
    Lucas M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 14, 2011
    In a word: dreadful. From the opening scenes where it's impossible to know what's happening or the relationship of the characters to the terribly bloated running time, almost nothing about The Wiz is very good. The production looks cheap from the get go, seemingly taking place on one giant set constantly redressed while filming takes place on selected locations, with hideously unmemorable music and bland, paper thin characters. The villain of the piece, Evillene, shows up for a total of five-maybe seven minutes-late in the picture. There simply isn't any jeopardy or a sense of oomph on the screen. Props to Stan Winston and the make-up effects...but the rest of the film is just garbage.
    Jason V Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2010
    This is one of those movies people either love or hate, personally I hated it when I saw it as a kid, it seemed to me that this was just the Wizard of Oz with an all black cast, and I didn't see the reason for it. Plus, it has a totally different, and very strange, kind of style that I just couldn't understand. I hated it, but I may give it another try someday.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

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