The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz (review)

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It’s not on a par with the Muppet movie madness of old, but it’s darn close. The charming Ashanti (Coach Carter) stars as Dorothy is a waitress in her Auntie Em’s (Queen Latifah: Beauty Shop) diner in Kansas, but what she really wants is to be a pop-music star… and she just might get her chance when a tornado blows her and her pet prawn (Pepe, the most suave and perhaps most hilarious Muppet ever) to the Land of Oz, where the great Wizard might grant her wish. Sly and clever pop-culture commentary abounds as, ahem, the “friends of Dorothy” travel with her to Emerald City — Kermit’s the Scarecrow, Fozzie’s the Lion, and Gonzo’s the Tin Man; diva Miss Piggy naturally hogs the screen as all the witches. But it’s not that the writers simply dropped in references to everything from Harry Potter to high fashion — no mere throwaway jokes, these become opportunities to send up, satirize, and criticize contemporary culture. It’s all way smarter than we expect kids’ entertainment to be these days. “What happens in Emerald City, stays in Emerald City, okay?” says Pepe, but you’ll want to share it.

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