Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Wizard

Remember that movie with Fred Savage's first on-screen kiss? Probably not. What about a Nintendo ad shaped like a film that coincided with the release of Super Mario 3? Not merely just the “best movie about the Nintendo game system,” The Wizard is a coming-of-age film set in the early days of gaming. It's a family adventure about love and friendship, overcoming adversity, and kicking ass at Double Dragon.

Fred Savage plays Corey Woods, older brother to Jimmy. Jimmy's apparent autism is actually the outward manifestation of severe emotional and psychological trauma. Jimmy's twin sister drowned while he watched helpless from shore, and he hasn't spoken a word since except to wistfully call out to California.

The film opens on Jimmy as he walks steadily westward, the vast expanse of the American Midwest laid out before him. “California,” he says by way of explanation to the Sheriff who rolls up, asking what he's doing. We soon learn this is Jimmy's MO, a behaviour which puts great stress on his family and which has finally landed him in an institution.

The Woods family isn't any better off without Jimmy. The parents are divorced, bitter acrimony filling the space between them. Eldest son, Nick, has little respect for either parent and retreats into video games a way to escape his unhappy life. He drinks, too. Mom is remarried, Dad is trying to hold it together. In the midst of all this family strife, Corey takes off. He busts out his little brother and the two embark on a wild adventure that will take them all the way to California. Corey believes that, for whatever reason, California will cure Jimmy.

It wont. But California does have other things to offer, a healing of a different kind. As with other road movies, The Wizard is more about the journey than the destination.

To read the rest of this review, please visit Screen Shaped Eyes.

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