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The Wizard Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Kids' adventure tale filled with danger and a bit of heart.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that a primary story element in the 1989 movie The Wizard is a little boy's mental disability (we would now call it post-traumatic stress disorder), which is sometimes treated unkindly. Several characters call him names ("mutant," "moron," "freak," "mental case," and more), his parents consider putting him in an institution, while others are protective of him. The film's plentiful action is mainly cartoonish, and while there are no seriousinjuries or deaths, there are fist fights, car crashes, a chase on a tram, numerous escapes from captivity,and many scuffles. Expect some cursing (i.e."ass," "s--t," "butthead," "son-of-a-bitch") and product placement.

  • Families can talk about children with special needs. How are disabled kids portrayed in TV and movies? Have you seen any changes to these portrayals in the last few years? Are you aware of your own behavior around children with disabilities? How do you imagine they would like to be treated?
  • Corey and Jimmy thought running away was the answer to their problems. What other options did they have? What do you do when you have important issues to deal with in your family?
  • Video games have changed a lot since 1989 when this movie was made. Do you think the violence is more explicit today? Do you think this evolution is a good thing? Were the old games enjoyable without the "realistic" action?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: This movie is a kid's fantasy of independence in the face of incompentant and careless adults. The relationship between the kids is positive and compassionate, though the scenarios throughout the movie are greatly exaggerated, and full of don't-try-this-at-home scenarios like kids hitchhiking across several states.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Parents and other adults are portrayed as volatile, ignorant, and irresponsible, though they do learn some lessons by the film's end. The heroic young characters are well-intentioned and resourceful, but as they hitchhike from Utah to California with a small boy in tow, they make a lot of iffy decisions and continually put themselves in harm's way.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Lots of cartoon action with no serious injuries. Three children are physically threatened, a gang of street toughs rough them up, and a bounty hunter captures them several times only to have them escape. They also maneuver on foot through a fiery King Kong exhibit on the Universal Studios tour. In addition, the adult characters engage in moderate action throughout, including: car chases, brief scuffles and fist fights, a man wielding a small knife, and cars used as weapons to disable other vehicles.

  • sex false1

    Sex: A young girl shouts "He touched my breasts!" to get out of a difficult situation. The declaration is repeated. A pre-teen couple share a brief kiss.

  • language false3

    Language: Occasional swearing: "hell," "damn," "butthead," "son-of-a-bitch," "ass," "s--t," and "bitch." Insults directed at the mentally-challenged little boy: "mutant," "moron," "mental case," "brainless," "space case," "freak," and "maniac."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Kids either mention or play numerous popular video games of the era throughout, including Super Mario Bros 3. Other products featured: Pepsi, Bud Lite, Michelob, Sinclair Oil, Hostess Cupcakes, WonderBread, AC Auto Parts, and more. A lengthy sequence takes place on the Universal Studios Tour and Amusement Park.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A father reprimands his teen son for drinking, but the boy is never shown on camera consuming alcoholic beverages. One elderly man is seen drinking a beer.

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