Dorothy Gale lives with her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry in a trailer park in Kansas. Dorothy has dreams of becoming a famous singer, but when a tornado hits Kansas and Dorothy rushes to save Toto, her prawn (she couldn't afford a dog), she is whisked away to Oz where she meets the four witches (all played by Miss Piggy) and the Munchkins of Oz (the rats). On her way to see the Wizard, she meets the Scarecrow (Kermit), the Tin Thing (Gonzo), and the Cowardly Lion (Fozzie) who all wish to have something given by the wizard. On their way to Emerald City, they are captured by the Wicked Witch of the West (of course, Miss Piggy) and her flying monkeys (other muppets). When they finally make it back to Emerald City, the Wizard is really a man from Hollywood. But he "grants" their wishes, but what they wanted they already had inside (there's a lesson there). When Dorothy finally is back in Kansas, she becomes what she had wanted, a famous singer and on the Muppets Star Search show. Written by
Chris Hunter <DrEvilGuy200>
A sadly unfunny TV movie for the Muppets, Ashanti unsurprisingly doesn't help
I saw the "The Wizard of Oz" (the 1939 classic, which is clearly the most famous adaptation of L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz") many times as a kid in the 90's, and also got to see two "Wizard of Oz" school plays when I was in the early primary grades, so by the time this Muppets television film version was released, I had been familiar with the story for a long time. However, I don't think I ever heard of "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" until a while after it originally aired. After about 5½ years, I've finally seen this non-theatrical Muppet movie. A "Wizard of Oz" remake with the Muppets certainly didn't seem like a bad idea, but Ashanti playing Dorothy sure sounded like bad news, which it sure is.
Dorothy Gale lives in a Kansas trailer park with her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry and works at their diner. She also has a pet prawn named Toto. Dorothy is not happy with her life and dreams of becoming a superstar. She has a chance when she gets to audition to be a singer for the Muppets, but arrives too late, just as they're leaving, and only gets to give them a demo CD. When she returns to the trailer park, the place is hit by a tornado, and her trailer is soon blown away with her and Toto inside! When they land, it turns out that Toto can now talk, and the two are now in the Land of Oz. They meet the Munchkins and learn that when the trailer landed, it crushed the Wicked Witch of the East. The Good Witch of the North then appears and gives Dorothy the Wicked Witch's magic slippers. The Good Witch tells the young Kansas woman that if she wants to become a famous singer, she must go to meet the Wizard of Oz in Emerald City, so Dorothy begins her journey along the yellow brick road.
This 2005 TV movie already looks bad right at the beginning, opening with a music video for a song performed by Ashanti as Dorothy Gale. After this, the film still looks like it's going to be dull experience. For a while, we don't see the Muppets much, and the movie isn't very funny at all at this point. A notably unfunny character who appears briefly near the beginning is the Stage Manager, played by Edward Hibbert. When Dorothy and Toto arrive in the Land of Oz, it is pretty funny seeing Toto turn into Pepe. After this, I frequently smiled (I guess it's never COMPLETELY straight-faced with the Muppets), but most of the gags I did not find funny. When the Scarecrow (Kermit) first appears, he references "The Passion of the Christ", a reference which doesn't seem to fit in a Muppet film. There's also a nipple joke at one point, and I don't know if I would have gotten that sex gag as a kid, but I don't think it's funny. Ashanti's acting performance is certainly not that impressive, and I did not enjoy listening to her singing. Eventually, when the Wicked Witch of the West comes in, the film may just get a little too brutal for a Muppet movie, just for a moment.
I'm giving this film the same rating as I gave "Muppets from Space", the last theatrical Muppet movie to date. Not only did I not find that 1999 release very funny, I also thought it was too dark and cruel for the Muppets. "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" isn't quite as dark as that film (or at least not as much of it is), but it's still mostly unfunny, and the casting of Ashanti is another problem. Apparently, Hilary Duff and Jessica Simpson also auditioned for the role of Dorothy, and I sincerely doubt either of them would have been any better than Ashanti. In fact, they might have been even worse! Now, by the end of this 2005 television film, I wasn't sure whether to give it a four or a five out of ten, as it didn't seem QUITE as bad towards the end. However, with the lack of laughs and the starring role played by one of the singers I've strongly disliked since I was a teenager, I can't say I think this film is up to Muppet standards.
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