The Wizard of Oz
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3 items from 2006

Arthur and the Invisibles

27 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

For his children's fantasy Arthur and the Invisibles, writer-director Luc Besson appears to have grabbed bits of this and that from a number of fairy tales, tossed them into a blender and hoped for a family adventure. The result isn't an unpalatable pudding but rather a fair-to-middling children's film that is half CG-animation and half live-action. Adults may shake their heads at the blatant borrowings from the King Arthur legend and The Wizard of Oz to the 1980s comedy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but many youngsters will enjoy the ride.

The film will also supply the answer at some future date to the barroom challenge: What 2006 movie starred Madonna, David Bowie and Snoop Dogg? The trick is that these singer-actors do not appear in this movie but perform the voices of several of the tiny CG beings who live in the hero's backyard.

The decision by MGM and the Weinsteins to move the national release of Arthur to Jan. 12 is odd, since it will miss the holidays when the film's biggest audience is out of school. This does avoid head-to-head competition with "Charlotte's Web," though, so perhaps the film will have the playing field more to itself.

Besson's story is based on his own children's book, Arthur and the Minimoys, which he adapted in a screenplay written with visual artist Celine Garcia. Young Arthur (Freddie Highmore of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") lives on a Connecticut homestead with his grandmother (Mia Farrow) and pet dog. Life is good, but he does suffer from neglect by his parents, wage slaves in a distant city.

His vivid fantasy life is fueled by tales of his grandfather, who mysteriously disappeared awhile back. In deepest Africa, granddad made friends with a jungle tribe of huge proportions and, conversely, the Minimoys, a tribe of tiny creatures.

An evil real estate developer will foreclose on the grandmother's property in 48 hours unless she can come up with a king's ransom. Arthur's rescue plan sends him searching for African rubies his granddad buried in the yard. A treasure map, conveniently discovered in a nick of time, instructs Arthur to miniaturize himself by passing through a telescope into the land of the Minimoys, inch-tall creatures who inhabit the backyard.

Here, insects assume huge sizes, and good and evil are locked in constant warfare. There is a good king, a villain whose name no one dares speak, a rastaman named Max (Snoop) and a princess (Madonna). He falls in love with the tiny princess and must travel with her and her younger brother toward the center of power for the evil Maltazard (Bowie) and the place where he believes his grandfather is a prisoner. All this is done as a cartoon, but even so, the idea of Madonna coming on to a 10-year-old boy is a bit weird.

The action and derring-do are exciting, but Besson drags things out considerably for his young audience at 122 minutes. The CG work is clever but cannot measure up to Pixar's standards in cleverness or imagination. Nothing is fresh here. Nevertheless, Besson's tech crew and visual effects overseers make the two worlds meld quite well.



The Weinstein Co. presents an Europa Corp./Avalanche Prods./Sofica Europacorp/Apipoulai production


Director: Luc Besson

Screenwriters: Luc Besson, Celine Garcia

Based on the book by: Luc Besson

Producers: Luc Besson, Emmanuel Prevost

Directors of photography: Thierry Arbogast, Dominique Delguste

Production designer: Hugues Tissandier

Music: Eric Serra

Special effects: Dominique Vidal

Costume designer: Patrice Garcia


Arthur: Freddie Highmore

Grandmother: Mia Farrow

Voice of Princess Selenia: Madonna

Voice of Maltazard: David Bowie

Voice of Max: Snoop Dogg

Mother: Penny Balfour

Father: Doug Rand

Voice of the King: Robert De Niro

Voice of Miro: Harvey Keitel

Voice of the travel agent: Chazz Palminteri

Voice of Ferryman: Emilio Estevez.

Running time -- 122 minutes

MPAA rating: PG


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Garland's "Forgotten" Childhood Recordings Fail To Sell

18 December 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

The Wizard Of Oz star Judy Garland's childhood recordings failed to sell at a Los Angeles auction yesterday when bidding did not match the minimum price. The songs were taped in a Hollywood recording studio in March 1935, when a 12-year-old Garland sang "Good Ship Lollypop," "Object Of My Affections" and "Dinah," accompanied by her mother on piano. But bidding at Bonhams And Butterfields auction house reached just $22,500 - well short of the $40,000 expected price. The unnamed owner of the two previously-unheard acetate discs, which were discovered in the rubbish at one of Garland's former homes in Beverly Hills, is expected to attempt to sell them again in the near future. Garland died in 1969 of a prescription drug overdose. She was 47. »

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'Rain' storms to top of AFI

4 September 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Singin' in the Rain topped the American Film Institute's list of the 25 Greatest Movie Musicals, which was an-nounced Sunday night at the Hollywood Bowl as part of a concert program presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in cooperation with the AFI. A jury of more than 500 film artists, composers, musicians, critics and historians selected the list, whose top 10 are, in descending order, West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Cabaret, Mary Poppins, the 1954 A Star Is Born, My Fair Lady, An American in Paris and Meet Me in St. Louis. »

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