80s Odyssey: The Wizard (1989)

The Wizard isn’t the kind of movie I lost my mind over as a kid. I liked it and back then it was a really big deal to lay eyes not only on the mysterious Power Glove (which turned out to be a piece of junk), but more importantly the highly anticipated Super Mario Bros. 3. I remembered the basics, Fred Savage and another kid who seemed like Rain Man traveled across part of the country with a girl, playing video games and eventually playing Mario 3.

I decided to watch The Wizard again last week thinking it would be a fun little nostalgia trip for me, and it was, but it also turned out to be a really good movie. I tweeted that it’s basically a Bing Crosby/Bob Hope Road To movie mixed with Rain Man, Nintendo and The Hustler, but it’s also a surprisingly well written movie. Sure, it’s a little melodramatic at times, but I like how they don’t put all the details on the table right off the bat.

What I didn’t remember from childhood is the fact that Fred Savage and the other kid are actually brothers, that they come from a broken home and have a father who has been shattered by the loss of their sister. It’s actually pretty intense and might seem like too much for a movie that many consider a big advertisement for the Nintendo Entertainment System, but I think it all balances well and the end product is a quality movie.

But, it’s not all sadness. There are a lot of funny parts and Savage is an absolute delight to watch. He’s such a quality actor and was so even at such a young age. Everyone in the film does a great job and that include Beau Bridges and Christian Slater as the dad and older brother respectively.

I do wonder if kids today would appreciate or even like this movie. Is there too much that would need explaining to them? That’s an arcade game. Our video games used to look crappy. The Power Glove looked cool, but sucked. I like to think the themes are pretty universal though and hope that kids could get behind the idea of needing to branch out on your own to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. Also, that video games are awesome, but they probably already know that.

The movie’s on Netflix Instant right now and is definitely worth another watch. Has anyone else watched it recently or shown it to their kids/siblings?

Toy Commercial Tuesday: McDonald’s Super Mario Bros. 3

I intended to shine my meager spotlight on the commercial from Marvel’s Secret Wars with the crazy vehicles, but it wouldn’t load. And, when things don’t load right away on YouTube, I’m three other videos deep by the time it would have taken for that first one to load. That’s what got me to this commercial for the Super Mario Bros. 3 toys from McDonald’s. If memory serves, I had both the flipping Goomba and the suction/spring Mario. Better yet, I remember going and getting my copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 from Toys R Us. It was the first day it came out and we had one of those papers with the name of the game on it that you had to take up to the register and switch out (along with some money) for the game. It was really early and I was 7. If Wikipedia is to be believed and I really was there on the first day, that would have put this all on February 12, 1990, 6 days after my birthday. What an awesome birthday present. I am a huge fan of that game, and how mind blowing were the frog, raccoon and Tanooki suits? Very cool, but not as cool as the hard-to-find Hammer Brother Mario suit. As a kid I spent big chunks of time drawing those characters. Anyway, I loved Super Mario Bros. and am having an awesome time playing my way through New Super Mario Bros. Wii which I am loving at every turn. None of which has much to do with these toys themselves, but I figured I’d get that story out now instead of later when I’m talking about the Wii game, which I can then link back to this. Kinda meta, right?