The Wizard (1989)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The adventures of two brothers en route to California.

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Cast

Fred Savage
as Corey Woods
Luke Edwards
as Jimmy Woods
Sam McMurray
as Bateman
Wendy Phillips
as Christine
Dea McAllister
as Counselor
Roy Conrad
as Bus Clerk
Chuck Skinner
as Grease Monkey
T. Dan Hopkins
as Old Navajo
Beth Grant
as Diner Manager
Gregor Hesse
as Younger Boy
Tom Kerley
as Pinball Teen
Gene Skillen
as Stickman
Anthony Blair
as Hotel Security
Jacqueline Lear
as Bubblegum Girl
Valana C. Hatter
as Diner Waitress
Stephen Grives
as Armageddon Announcer
Terri Lynn Neish
as Poolside Waitress
Lee Arenberg
as Armageddon Registrar
Steven Grives
as Armageddon Announcer
Marisa Desimone
as Mora Grissom
Zed James Frizzelle
as Lucas' Buddy
Jim Pirri
as Studio Tour Guide
David D'Ovidio
as Armageddon Official
Roderick Dexter
as Trucker #1
Ray Bickel
as Trucker #2
W.K. Cowan
as Salesman #1
Jason Oliver
as Tough Teen #1
Rowdy Metzger
as Tough Teen #2
Preston Scott Lee
as Tough Teen #3
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Critic Reviews for The Wizard

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (3)

Video-addicted kids may well find this exciting, but for anyone old enough to stay out later than 9 P.M. it's a distinct bore.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 1/5

Hollywood hucksters, zap them, have borrowed from Japanese game-pushers in this shameless attempt to sucker America's children.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

It was only after the three kids arrived safely at the championships that I began to question the ethics of the film, which is, among other things, a thinly disguised commercial for Nintendo video games and the Universal studio tour.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

An ad for video games that makes video games look like a peyote hallucination.

Jul 30, 2015 | Rating: 2/10 | Full Review…

A solid and entertaining road film that is never cloying or abundantly sweet.

Jun 21, 2013 | Full Review…

The runaways' actions provide anything but responsible models for the children who make up the film's target audience, and the likable cast flails against the rampant idiocy and gross commercialism.

Mar 12, 2010 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Wizard

½

Lets go back to a time when videogame adaptations basically didn't exist. A time when videogames didn't really mix with movies and any that dared to do so tended to fail ('Tron'). Movies and videogames were different entities that simply didn't mesh. But that didn't stop Nintendo trying to break that mould with this offering. The Plot: Sam Woods (Beau Bridges) is separated from his wife. He lives with his two elder sons Nick (Christian Slater) and Corey (Fred Savage). The boys also have a younger brother called Jimmy (Luke Edwards) who lives with his mother and stepfather. Jimmy did also have a twin sister but she drowned leaving Jimmy suffering from PTSD. Its this PTSD that seemingly causes Jimmy to want to wander off to California. Eventually, after becoming frustrated with his fathers apparent inability to care properly for Jimmy, Corey takes it upon himself to run away with Jimmy to California. On the road they meet up with a young girl called Haley (Jenny Lewis) who is also on her way home to Reno. They decide to team up after discovering that Jimmy is a whizz at any videogame he comes across. Haley will help them travel across the country to a large videogame contest being held in Universal Studios where they will enter Jimmy and split the winnings if he wins. Now when I was a kid (which seems like 100 years ago now) this was one of those movies that I saw and kinda enjoyed but not overly. It was a movie that was engaging mainly because of the videogame element, naturally. I was never really into the family aspect of the movie simply because it was of no interest to me; twas all about the videogames which at the time seemed like eons into the future of what I was used to (the Spectrum 128K and Atari 2600). In fact I can honesty say I found the movie boring as a kid, a case of fast-fowarding through certain parts. Looking back now (as a 40 year old...gulp!) I can honesty say that maybe I was onto something back in the day. Now don't get me wrong this isn't a bad movie per say, its just incredibly average and indeed somewhat dull. I mean just digging a bit deeper into the plot there are so many questions. When Jimmy and Corey run away their parents decide to hire a bounty hunter to find them?? Umm...how about the police?? There really doesn't seem to be much urgency in actually getting the young boys back. I also have to ask why the bounty hunter guy is so...dastardly. I mean this is his job, he's being paid to find these kids, yet he's behaving like a complete assh*le for no apparent reason other than being dumb comic relief. Upon meeting Haley we eventually find out that she's making her way home...on her own? From where? Where has she been? We know her mother has passed on but where's her father at?? The character of Haley is also very much the Mary Sue of this movie if you will; she's like the all powerful lucky charm that can solve any problem, dues ex machina overload. When they need money she knows a truck driver who can gamble for them inside a casino. At the same time Haley is also, apparently, an expert at craps. She knows exactly where to go, who to speak to, and what to do at all times. Yeah OK she's suppose to be more worldly than the boys but come on, she's only about 13 or thereabouts. The main lure of this movie was of course the videogames. The plot was pretty non-existent but Nintendo didn't really care about that methinks. Twas all about the plugs and boy is this movie full of plugs. The funny thing is you don't actually see much videogame action, just lots of snippets of characters playing dotted throughout (mostly from the NES). Such games included are [i]Mega Man 2[/i], [i]Contra[/i], [i]Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles[/i], [i]Double Dragon[/i] etc...Watching now its really nothing special to see these games (what little you see) but I do recall that back in the day it was pretty exciting and cool as it was a first essentially. As I said previously, as a kid in the UK with a Spectrum 128K and Atari 2600, the games on show in this movie seemed like something completely out of reach, so futuristic, a massive lure. Hell the sight of the now infamous Nintendo Power Glove was enough to blow my little child mind when that popped up. It looked like the coolest toy ever created...being handled by some even cooler looking kid with a slick lock of hair. Seriously did you see how the camera pans around this kids stoic looking face, its like an aftershave advert. Of course now that entire scene is unintentionally hilarious because we all know how that peripheral turned out (and then there's that kids face). Its also amusing to see all the Nintendo/gamer help lines manned by nerds with stacks of cheat books for every game. My how times have changed. But lets just address what this movie essentially is, apart from a long videogame advert for Nintendo. This movie is basically a kids version of 'Rain Man'...with videogames. Jimmy pretty much is Raymond Babbitt and Haley (not goofy Corey) is a nicer version of Charles Babbitt and instead of gambling its videogames...with a touch of gambling. I can understand why this has become something of a cult but honesty its pretty mundane and unengaging. The cast is quite grand as is the beautiful scenery of rural America, but the plot is thin and honesty nothing much of interest really happens. Bottom line, at a time when 80's (and general) nostalgia is at an all time high and you can find a multitude of retro goodness online at the touch of a button, this kinda fell flat for me. Its perfectly fine as a minor trip down memory lane for games, haircuts, clothes and an early videogame tournament concept (that maniac hosting the contest! Jesus!). But overall as a movie its wholly average at best.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Does that above trailer look like product placement and late 1980's cheese? That is because it is. Do not get me wrong here, I can be a sucker for these types of films if they have a good payoff in the end or some drive toward a decent story. What made me happy watching this film, is that it does exactly that. Fred Savage has always had that little-kid charm to him and the supporting cast around him all serve a purpose toward this story. As his little brother Jimmy has the goal of getting to California, his talents of being a nintendo master surface. As three kids embark on a road trip to California, where the world championship nintendo games are being held, other stories from their past come to fruition. Now, the main story is as cheesy as it sounds, but when the gut punch comes, getting you emotionally invested in a particular character, "The Wizard" becomes slightly surprising. I am not trying to praise this film or call in great in any regard, but it is a serviceable story with more heart than you'd expect. "The Wizard" is a fine time.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

It's more than a game... It's the chance of a lifetime. Saw it again! Great movie from my childhood which I still love and enjoy every single time I see it! Very nice roles by everyone who acted on this one. Super Mario Bros.3 one of the best video games ever created hands down! Corey and Jimmy Woods are two brothers who are being separated due to their parents divorcing. Jimmy is a mentally unstable kid that has had problems ever since his sister died at a young age. One day, Corey discovers that Jimmy has a natural talent for playing video games. He is one of the best around, and the two journey to the West Coast to compete in a video game championship, but along the way, they must avoid the adults, who are trying to take Jimmy away.

Manu Gino
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

½

having grown up on this film i was excited to show it to my kids, and despite being about dated games, they loved it as much as i did. as long as one goes into this for good family fun, it works despite the unbelievable storyline.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

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