The Wizard Recap


Caaaallliiiffffooooorrrrnnniiiaaaaa. Appropriate as I write this post from that very state. I too was inexorably drawn by the power of video games. Yet when I got here I realized it was never about being a super video game wizard (although certainly a perk), but rather, as Vinny D would say, fambly. *Sniff* It’s beautiful. It’s all somewhat ironic too as the phrase “Caaaalllliiiiffffoooooorrrrnniiiaaaa,” is probably second only to “I love my power glove. It’s so bad” as the quote from the film that has lived on in infamy. Yet California is barely in the film. We get a heaping dose of Utah and then really spend some QT with the GF in Nevada. From there it is like they teleport to Universal Studios. If you grew up with this film you must have imagined California was just a giant theme park where kids grumble about the unfairness of having to battle each other in hotly anticipated video game releases. But California isn’t like that… it isn’t like that at all. I do the research so you don’t have to.

To recap, Jimmy Woods is a boy who is struggling with the death of his twin sister. He barely speaks and spends his time either building elaborate architectural creations or attempting to walk to Caaallliiifffooorrrnnniaaaaa. His stepdad is naturally a horrible caricature dead set on locking the kid away, but Jimmy’s brother Corey won’t have any of that. He grabs Jimmy and sets out for Caaaallliiffffooorrrnnniiiaaa. Their parents are horrified. The dad sets out with their older son in search, while the mom hires an equally horrible caricature of a private investigator to get them back. This leads to numerous clashes between the two all while Corey and Jimmy attempt to find their way out of Utah. Stumbling upon Haley, a girl trying to get home to Reno, they realize that Jimmy is a video game wizard. His natural talents earn them money hustling locals at arcade machines while also pointing them towards the big video game championships in Caaalllliifffooorrrnniiiaa. Why? Because if Jimmy wins the big championship even a horrible caricature of a stepdad couldn’t convince anyone to lock him up. They run into all kinds of trouble, including a local video game legend named Luke who gives them a taste of the Power Glove (it’s so bad) and exactly what the competition at the championships will be like. When they finally arrive in Reno they are able to do a little training and scrape together the funds for the final push to Caaallliiifffooorrnniaaa. At the championships all the worlds collide as they witness Jimmy rise to the finals and ultimately grab the crown. Everyone agrees he can’t be locked up and on the way home they see a roadside dinosaur attraction that the family went to before. Stopping there they realize this is where Jimmy has been aiming the whole time and the wizard is able to finally heal. THE END. 

The Wizard is a funny little movie. The production quality is like an episode of 90210. I use that comparison only because, like in The Wizard, it’s one or the few times that I’ve seen a boom mic drop into frame in the wild. It also cuts forward so fast (even cutting the score midsequence sometimes) that you wonder what kind of editing magic was happening. You add in the unintentional comedy of the Power Glove, a truly insane product placement back story, and some incredible acting choices in the video game competition and you have a minor classic on your hands. I found it interesting that the reviews at the time were very critical of this being an exploitative knockoff of Rain Man and Tommy (but for kids!) but I guess I wonder… is that really a bad thing? Speaking of…

Hot Take Clam Bake! Are we sure making knockoffs of classic films for kids is really a bad thing? Like should I be worried about the artistic purity of a Casablanca knockoff set in a high school? Give it to me. I will eat up any and all high school versions of whatever classic film you give me. High school films are great, coming-of-age stories are great. They don’t make enough of them really. I dare you to watch She’s All That and come away thinking anything other than “that movie was all that and a bag of potato chips. Give me more potato chip movies so I can munch ‘em all up.” The fact that The Wizard is a knockoff of Rain Man and/or Tommy is dope. Hot Take Temperature: Bulgarian Carrot.



‘Ello everyone! Caaaaaaaaalifoooooooooornia. That’s right, after suffering that traumatic event of witnessing The Wizard (and the raw power of the Power Glove, it’s so bad), I have an insatiable need to go to Universal Studios. Let’s go!

  • I watched this film a ton when I was younger. As usual I make no apologies. I like this movie. It is pure nostalgia. I don’t care though, what a silly nonsense movie this is. I would watch it again right now.
  • But boy howdy, do I agree with Roger Ebert: are we sure we should be watching a film in which two (and eventually three) literal children are hitchhiking their way across three states (and like multiple deserts right?) to get to … I mean, initially they just want to get to California, whatever that means. Eventually they decide that they’ve got a video game prodigy on their hands and they are going to make the money their families need to heal (or whatever) at the maybe first ever Video Game Championships in Universal Studios, Lunacy. And even being a little older than I was watching this film most of the time (let’s say like 11?) it is harrowing watching children narrowly avoid dying on highways and junk. What a weird movie.
  • The one two punch of product placement for both The Power Glove (and explicitly Super Mario 3) and Universal Studios is also something else.
  • The stories from wikipedia are fun. Like how the director was told to shoot EVERYTHING in the script. And he’s like “but … then the movie will be three hours. It’ll be a huge waste of money since we’ll have to throw it all out”. But the producers were just like “do it.” So he did … and they cut it down and wasted a boatload of time and money. But that probably is why the film ends up all cut to shit in the end is that huge swaths of boring filler garbage was eventually cut out. Release the Universal Cut you cowards! I want to watch The Wizard as a 3 hour epic.
  • Still to this day I tell random people that I love my Power Glove, and how bad it is. This film has a very weird cult following, but it is also amazing.
  • How does the kid know where to find the secret flute in an unreleased game? Well, maybe because it was already released in Japan months prior? Naw, that can’t be it because then Haley would have been excited instead of angry since they would have been able to know the tricks of the game by calling the hotline in Reno. So since they definitely didn’t know the trick the answer must be … magic I guess? I don’t see how anyone finds that flute the first time you play the game organically. No matter how much of a savant you are, that seems to be pushing it.
  • Obviously an incredible Product Placement (What?) for Nintendo, Super Mario 3, The Power Glove, and Universal Studios. Truly awesome. A great Road Trip Film (Where?) for the kids going from Utah through Nevada to California. A subtle yet I think real MacGuffin (Why?) for Caaaaaaaalifornia as no one really knows why they are going there, and yet it is the central driving force for the film.

Read all about the 35 years in the making sequel The Wizard 2 in the Quiz. Cheerios,

The Sklogs


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