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File:The Wizard 6135.jpg
I love the Power Glove(tm). It's so bad!
Lucas

For the homonym TV Series, see The Wizard.

The Wizard is a 1989 film starring Fred Savage, Jenny Lewis, Christian Slater, and Beau Bridges. It is about Jimmy, a young boy who suffers from a serious mental disorder reminiscent of Hollywood Autism after a traumatic incident. After being put in an institution, Corey (Savage), one of his older brothers, breaks him out. They decide to run away to California Cawwwifffohneeeyaaaa together, as Jimmy is for some reason fixated on the place.

Along the way, they meet with some other kids that eerily seem to lack parental supervision. They also learn that Jimmy is a godlike entity around video games. Meanwhile, the concerned mother of Jimmy hires a sleazy private detective named Putnam to bring him back and leave Cory behind. This causes a rivalry between him and Sam, the father (Bridges) and Nick, the eldest brother (Slater) who try to recover them both.

But none of this is what the movie is well-known for. The film is a fairly blatant Merchandise-Driven affair, made to sell Nintendo products and the Universal Studios tour. In fact, much of the film's initial appeal was that it had a sneak peek of Super Mario Bros 3 (for North America; it had been available in Japan for more than a year).

The film maintains a cult following within the video game culture based on its Snark Bait potential. Analyzing the film is a senior thesis of its own, but some of the major issues include the following:

  1. It's not a good sign when even Roger Ebert is able to notice the inaccuracies.
  2. Most (though not all) of the arcade machines are Playchoice 10 units, which were little more than NES games in an arcade cabinet. People still come across these units in stores today. It's unlikely that grown men gambled money on them, though. [1]
  3. Lucas and his infamous line, "I love the Power Glove. It's so bad". Anybody who has ever used one of those will tell you that there is no way you can utilize it with that level of skill. Not to mention that "bad" has taken on a different connotation with regards to the Power Glove.
  4. During the tournament, Jimmy inexplicably uncovers the World 1 Warp Zone Whistle in Super Mario Bros 3, one of the least intuitive shortcuts in any game, on his very first try. How is this kid supposed to figure out that you're supposed to fly over the top of the ceiling and then go into a door that you can't even see? And why would he even risk it, given that he's in a competition?

Still, it's a fairly popular Sunday afternoon TV recycle amongst younger kids who aren't familiar with Nintendo's heyday. Or who don't know any better. Given the utter glee that we still put into referencing/mocking it more than two decades later, it was worth every dime Nintendo put into it.

Tropes used in The Wizard include:
  • Abuse Is Okay When Its Female On Male: Haley's over-the-top reactions to Corey's harmless jokes.
  • Adults Are Useless: Pretty much the whole driving point of the film is that every adult is either uncaring or evil.
    • Or incompetent: The kids run through half of Universal's backlot without being halted by the tour guide they're disrupting or caught by studio security (who should be much more familiar with the layout of the studio; they work there, after all).
    • Or absent altogether: There's no mention of any minor kid characters' parents.
  • Artistic License Biology: See "Dead Little Sister".
  • Broken Aesop: The movie stresses self-reliance and independence... but don't be afraid to pay some money to the Nintendo Hot Line to cheat.
  • Competence Zone
  • Determinator: Jimmy to a certain degree.
  • Dead Little Sister: Rather sickeningly used as just another plot point, and implied to be the reason why Jimmy is on the Autism Spectrum. Seriously.
  • Deleted Scenes: There's a couple of scenes in the trailer that didn't make it into the movie.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The father tries to run Putnam off the road several times in ways that could easily cause flaming wreckage.
  • Excited Video Game Tournament Host: The most insane host in the history of organized competition.
  • Fan Disservice: The old man in the blue speedo.
  • Gamer Chick: A Trope Codifier.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Nearly every video game that's played for any length of time in this movie is depicted incorrectly.
  • Hey, It's That Girl!: Fans of indie rock tend to say this when they see Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis as a Gamer Chick.
    • On the male side of that, one of Lucas' friends near the end is Tobey Maguire, who eventually grew up to become Spider-Man.
  • Hufflepuff House: Mora Grissom, the other finalist in the final round with Jimmy and Lucas.
  • Informed Ability: Notice how the main characters are so hung up on how awesome Lucas is... after they've only seen him win at one game.
    • WITH THE POWER GLOVE! He is truly a god amongst gamers.
      • He also allowed them to pick the game of their destruction which in itself shows the level of badass that Lucas is.
  • Inspirationally Disabled: Jimmy
  • Jerkass: Putnam. He may be out to recover lost children, but 1) he doesn't handle with care (and acts more like a kidnapper) 2) he actively tries to impede Sam (the father of the two boys) from finding them just so he can claim payment) and 3) He had no intention of recovering the older boy.
    • Lucas as well, who sells Jimmy and the rest out to Putnam when it becomes clear that Jimmy might just win the tourney. Earlier, Lucas revealed to Sam and Nick that Jimmy and his friends are heading out to California.
  • Large Ham: The Emcee.

 Emcee: Come up here, MY LITTLE BEAUTIES!

 "I love the Power Glove... it's so bad."

  • Tournament Play: Oh, how many ways we can pick apart this sequence.
  • Walking the Earth
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Lucas and his Power Glove.
    • Upon seeing the kids escape in an elevator, Putnam inexplicably screams "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING?"
    • Then there's the incredibly elaborate, high-tech Video Armageddon stage, with Serious Business alarms, danger signs, big steel bunker panels, massive screens, and all the other shit that came with it... and Super Mario Bros. 3.

Notes

  1. This ain't pachinko.
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