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Film / The Muppets' Wizard of Oz

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The Muppets' Wizard of Oz is a 2005 Made-for-TV Movie adaption of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with The Muppets. Staring Ashanti as Dorothy Gale, Kermit as the Scarecrow, The Great Gonzo as the Tin Man (here called Tin Thing), Fozzie Bear as The Cowardly Lion, Pepe the Prawn as Toto, and Miss Piggy as the witches of the East, North (Tattypoo), West, and South (Glinda). Despite many changes to suit the Muppet cast, it is actually more faithful to the book in some places than the classic film.

Dorothy lives in Kansas and works as a waitress for her Aunt Em's diner. She dreams of becoming a famous singer, but one day, a tornado whisks her and her pet prawn to the land of Oz. The denizens tell Dorothy that the Wizard of Oz could make her dreams come true. On her way, she makes friends with the Muppets, who each have a desire for the Wizard to grant. When they meet the Wizard, he gives them a task to do before he can help them: defeat the Wicked Witch of the West.

Notable as the first Muppet production after Disney bought the franchise the previous year, though it had a largely negative critical reception, and Disney hasn't attempted any further literary adaptations starring The Muppets. Followed by A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa in 2008.

The Muppets' Wizard of Oz provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Rhyme: Pepe says "rats in hats" at one point.
    Pepe: "Hey, that rhymes. I'm a poet and didn't realize I had such a capability."
  • Adaptation Species Change:
    • Toto is a king prawn instead of a dog. Justified, since after Dorothy ends up in Oz, Toto is played by Pepe. Pre-tornado, he's an actual prawn in a goldfish bowl.
    • In the book, one of the Wizard's forms is a hairy, rhino-faced monster with five eyes and ten limbs. Here, his monster form is simply a dragon.
    • Averted with the Cowardly Lion: he's still a lion, even though his "actor", Fozzie, is a bear.
  • Adopt the Food: The reason for Toto being a prawn instead of a dog is explained as Dorothy not being allowed a dog, so she rescued a prawn from the diner.
  • Ascended Fan Girl: Dorothy.
  • Band of Relatives: The four witches, when they sang together as The Four Little Pigs.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Munchkins, played by the rats and led by Rizzo teach Dorothy a song to summon them if they are needed.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Dorothy starts off as this. She gets better, though.
  • Bringing Back Proof: Dorothy and her friends Scarecrow, Tin Thing, and the Cowardly Lion, played by Kermit the Frog, Gonzo, and Fozzie Bear, have to get the magic eye from the Wicked Witch of the West. They can bring it back to the Wizard as proof they can grant their wishes.
  • The Burlesque of Venus: The Wicked Witch of the West keeps her own version of Sandro Botticelli's painting hanging in her lair, with herself posing as Venus and one of her flying monkeys in place of Zephyr and his assistant.
  • The Cameo
    • In the uncut version, Dorothy steps into Dr. Honeydew's Makeover Machine to try on a punk look, and comes out played by Kelly Osbourne.
    • Quentin Tarantino appears in a Cutaway Gag to tell Kermit some plans he thought up for the fight between Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • The Cast Show Off: Ashanti
  • Casting Gag
    • Gonzo and Fozzie dressed as the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, respectively, in the 1981 TV special The Muppets Go to the Movies, when they joined Miss Piggy (dressed as Dorothy) and Scooter (as the Scarecrow) for a medley of songs from The Wizard of Oz.
    • Kermit, Gonzo, and Fozzie previously played the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, respectively, in the Muppet Babies (1984) episode "By The Book".
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • As noted above, Dorothy enters an Image Makeover machine, and steps out as Kelly Osbourne; however, the others feel that Ashanti is a more suitable look for her.
    • The Muppets are a real performing troupe who Dorothy wants to perform with. Their similarity to her Oz friends is not explored (and there's no All Just a Dream explanation).
  • Composite Character:
    • The Munchkins (played by the rats) also take the role of the Field Mice in the book.
    • In something of a meta example, and possibly a coincidence, Pepe has more in common with Billina the Chicken than Toto. He can talk when in Oznote , is a Deadpan Snarker, and chooses to stay in Oz since his prospects in Kansas is being cooked and eaten.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: After Glinda tells Dorothy she could have just used the silver shoes to return to Kansas, Dorothy glares at Tattypoo, for not telling her. Tattypoo reminds her that fantasy stories often end with the protagonist realizing what she needed was with her all along.
  • Dangerously Garish Environment: Just like the literal poppy field in the original movie (and the book it was based on), the nightclub called "Poppy Fields" qualifies. It has vibrant neon signs and is decorated with a flower motif, but it knocks the protagonists unconscious.
  • Darker and Edgier: The movie definitely has traces of this compared not only to other Muppet productions, but to other Oz productions as well. The scene where the Flying Monkeys rip apart the Scarecrow and the Tin Thing is probably one of the most disturbing scenes in any Muppet movie.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Whereas she was splashed with water in the original book and movie, the Wicked Witch of the West is kicked into a tub full of water here. It even gets established that bottle water won't kill her. If only one of her mooks didn't finish filling the tub up using a hose.
  • The Diss Track: The song sung by the Wicked Witch of the West, portrayed by Miss Piggy, sings to Dorothy about how she will never be famous like she wants.
  • Evil Is Hammy: And you thought Piggy was already a Large Ham?
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The Wicked Witch of the West melts quite graphically.
  • Gender Flip: As noted above, the Munchkins are also the Field Mice from the book. Which makes Rizzo's role as Mayor of Munchkinland equivalent to the Queen of the Field Mice.
  • I Choose to Stay: Toto stays in Oz.
  • "I Want" Song: "Kansas"
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Between Glinda and the Scarecrow.
  • Mythology Gag: Kermit, Gonzo and Fozzie previously played the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion in an episode of Muppet Babies and the TV special, The Muppets Go to the Movies.
  • Out Sick: The reason why the witch sends the Flying Monkeys instead of the Angry Bees is because the bees have stomach flu.
  • Powering Villain Realization: At one point, the characters must cross a bridge guarded by two trolls who resemble Statler and Waldorf. Their taunts make people fall off the bridge, but Dorothy realises that if they ignore their words, they won't fall.
  • Race Lift: African-Americans portray Dorothy (Ashanti), Aunt Em (Queen Latifah), and Uncle Henry (David Alan Grier), a la The Wiz.note 
  • Shout-Out: "Are you related to Frank Oz?"
    • The weatherman alerts Kansas that the Tornado went from right foot green to right foot yellow is a reference to the Parker Brothers board game, Twister!
  • Shown Their Work: The movie includes a lot of references to Oz trivia that come from the books and not from the MGM movie. Most notably, the name of the Good Witch of the North, Tattypoo, is taken from the Ruth Plumly Thompson book The Giant Horse of Oz, which was the twenty-second Oz book.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Dorothy eventually realizes that she shouldn't value fame and fortune more than family, so she goes back home to Kansas. Then, she accepts an offer from the Muppets to go on tour with them, subsequently leaving her family again. Although, they imply that Dorothy will do a better job keeping in touch with her family than she did in Oz. In the end, she realized it wasn't really so much fame and fortune she was after, it was simply being able to have a life for herself as a singer (much like Kermit wanting to sing and dance and make people happy in The Muppet Movie); at the same time, Aunt Em tells Dorothy that she's realized that even though she may not be with her and Uncle Henry in person, she'll always be with them in their hearts, which is why Aunt Em finally lets loose the reins, since she had been overbearing with her at the beginning of the movie.
  • Truer to the Text: Unlike most Wizard of Oz films after the release of the classic film, this film depends far more on the original book, including several things that the original film did not (such as the monkey-controlling hat, the four witches and Dorothy's shoes being silver instead of ruby).
  • Villain Song: "The Witch Is In the House."
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Wicked Witch of the West melts after landing in a tub filled with tap water. (She usually bathes in bottled water.)
  • Why Are We Whispering?:
    Scarecrow: I'm not good at anything because... (looks round for eavesdroppers) (whispering) I don't have a brain.
    Dorothy: (whispering) You don't have a brain?
    Scarecrow: (whispering) Right.
    Dorothy: (whispering) Why are you whispering?
    Scarecrow: (whispering) Uh, well, I can't really answer that, because ... (looks round for eavesdroppers) I don't have a brain.
  • You Look Familiar: This isn't the first time Jeffrey Tambor (the Wizard) and David Alan Grier (Uncle Henry) were involved with the Muppets before. Jeffrey Tambor was previously the main antagonist in Muppets from Space, whereas David Alan Grier was an in-universe stage manager in the Sesame Street special Elmopalooza, and later appeared as Aladdin on Sesame Street.