The Muppets' Wizard of Oz

The Muppets'
Wizard of Oz

Official poster
Based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Written by
Story by
  • Debra Frank
  • Steve L. Hayes
Directed by Kirk Thatcher
Theme music composer Michael Giacchino
Country of origin
  • United States
  • Canada
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Bill Barretta
Cinematography Tony Westman
Editor(s) Gregg Featherman
Running time 72 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor Buena Vista Television
Original network ABC
Original release
  • April 27, 2005 (2005-04-27) (Tribeca)
  • May 20, 2005 (2005-05-20)

The Muppets' Wizard of Oz is a 2005 American-Canadian television film directed by Kirk Thatcher and starring Ashanti and The Muppets with supporting roles done by Jeffrey Tambor, Quentin Tarantino, David Alan Grier, and Queen Latifah. The film was produced by Bill Barretta and written by Debra Frank, Steve L. Hayes, Tom Martin, and Adam F. Goldberg based on a story by Frank and Hayes.

A modernized adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the story follows young Dorothy Gale, who works in her Aunt Em's diner, but dreams of becoming a singer somewhere beyond her small Kansas town. Swept up by a tornado, in her trailer home with pet prawn Toto, she lands in Oz and embarks on a journey to meet the Wizard who can help make her dreams come true.

The film co-produced by The Muppets Studio, Touchstone Television, and Fox Television Studios, in association with The Jim Henson Company. Right after Disney bought the rights to The Muppets in 2004, pre-production on The Muppets' Wizard of Oz took place throughout February 2004, and filming occurred during September 2004. ABC made several changes to the film after the initial script was written, ultimately deciding to adapt plot elements from Baum's original novel rather than the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film, The Wizard of Oz. As with the preceding Muppet films, The Muppets' Wizard of Oz became a musical, and included five new songs written and composed by Michael Giacchino. The production marked the feature film debut of Eric Jacobson as the performer of Sam Eagle, a character originally performed by Frank Oz.

The Muppets' Wizard of Oz premiered on April 27, 2005 at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film's television premiere was broadcast on ABC on May 20, 2005, as the final ABC Movie of the Week. The film received generally negative reviews from critics. Most critics agreed that the film was too mature for young audiences, and that the cameo scenes and popular culture references were unnecessary.


Dorothy Gale (Ashanti) is an orphaned teenage girl living in a trailer park in Kansas. Her Aunt Em (Queen Latifah) and Uncle Henry (David Alan Grier) own a diner, to which Dorothy works for room and board. Her dream of becoming a singer is slim, but when waiting on some truckers Dorothy overhears that the Muppets are conducting a cross-country show called "Star Hunt" and are looking for a backup singer. Aunt Em disapproves, but with Uncle Henry's best wishes, she goes to the audition. However, the Muppets are about to end the audition, and Dorothy only manages to give them a demo CD that she created beforehand. In returning home, the civil defense sirens sound as a tornado is headed for Dorothy's trailer park. When Aunt Em and Uncle Henry run into the county storm shelter for safety, Dorothy hurries back to her family's mobile home to get Toto, her pet prawn. She does not make it out in time, and the two are swept by the tornado across the vast fields of Kansas. When Dorothy climbs out of the wreckage, she finds that Toto (Pepé the King Prawn) can talk and that she is no longer in Kansas.

Dorothy and Toto discover that they are in Munchkinland, a small town part of the vast Land of Oz. After discussing her situation with the town's people, the Munchkins (played by Rizzo the Rat and the other rats), she learns that the land's ruler the Wizard, has the power to grant her wish of becoming a famous singer. She meets the Good Witch of the North (Miss Piggy), and receives a pair of magic silver slippers from the Wicked Witch of the East (Miss Piggy), the Witch of the North's sister who was killed when Dorothy's trailer fell on her. Soon after, she embarks on a journey with Toto on the yellow brick road to meet the Wizard of Oz, who lives in the Emerald City, the capital of Oz. On her journey, she meets three creatures: a Scarecrow (Kermit), a Tin Thing (Gonzo), and a Cowardly Lion (Fozzie). They are also seeking the Wizard of Oz to give them a brain, heart, and courage, respectively. The group meets various obstacles involving a deep gorge where the Kalidah Critics (Statler and Waldorf) are heckling them and a Poppy Field Club run by Clifford which nearly puts them to sleep. After arriving at the Emerald City and meeting the Wizard, Dorothy and her friends are sent to retrieve the Wicked Witch of the West's magic eye, a tool she uses to see anything she desires in the Land of Oz.

The group assumes that completing this task will result in the granting of their wishes. The Wicked Witch of the West (Miss Piggy) sees them coming and consults with her pet Foo-Foo and her henchman Johnny Fiama. When the Wicked Witch of the West plans to have either her pack of 40 great man-eating wolves, a flock of 40 crows of despair, a swarm of angry black bees, a group of vicious squirrels, or a group of bloodthirsty cockatoos to do away with them, Johnny tells her that the animals that work for her are unavailable due to various reasons. This forces her to resort to using her Magic Biker Cap to call Sal Minella and the other Flying Monkeys (played by Sweetums, Crazy Harry, Black Dog, Calico, Old Tom, Spotted Dick, and Aretha from Fraggle Rock) to deal with them. The Witch and the Flying Monkeys capture Dorothy and Lion while Scarecrow and Tin Thing are dismantled by the Flying Monkeys.

After being threatened to be killed by her, Toto calls the Munchkins, who set Dorothy free and hold up the witch. During the final battle, it cuts away to a scene where Quentin Tarantino is with Kermit, discussing ideas for how Dorothy can defeat the Wicked Witch of the West. Tarantino's ideas are deemed too expensive and too violent for a Muppet movie, so they agree for Dorothy to do a powerful kick on the witch. Cutting back to the action, Dorothy kicks the witch into her own "bottled water bath" which contains tap water (to which she is severely allergic). Angel Marie admitted that he filled the water bottles with tap water to restock them. This action causes the Wicked Witch of the West to melt as Johnny averts Foo-Foo's eyes. With the Wicked Witch of the West dead, Dorothy finds the magic eye unharmed and floating in the tub and grabs it.

Dorothy gains control of the Flying Monkeys by giving back the group's Magic Biker Cap to Sal Minella. She has Scarecrow and Tin Thing rebuilt by the Flying Monkeys. Then she and her friends travel back to the Emerald City to have their wishes granted. When they all storm into the Wizard's room, they discover it is merely a Hollywood effects stage and that the Wizard (Jeffrey Tambor) is just an ordinary man, pretending. He asked for the witch's eye so that she could not see him for who he really was. Even so, he still proceeds to grant their wishes. Dorothy finally becomes a singer in the Land of Oz, but she realizes that all she ever really wanted was to go back home and be with her family. After traveling back to Munchkinland, she meets Glinda the Good Witch of the South (Miss Piggy), who tells her that if she clicks her heels together three times, she will be able to go anywhere she desires, contrary to how the Good Witch of the North said to get to the Emerald City. She does so, saying "take me home to Aunt Em".

She is then spun by the slippers' charm into Kansas, and, much to her surprise, she finds out that Kermit was looking for her, saying that she had the best voice they heard on the whole search, and that she has been chosen to go on the Star Hunt. Dorothy, having been reunited with her aunt and uncle, and feeling that she is not ready to leave Kansas to become a real star, rejects, but Aunt Em says that she wants her to go with the Muppets on their Star Hunt, much to her even bigger surprise. She then sings "Good Life" on television with them at the Muppet Theater as the film ends.


Muppet performers

Main article: List of Muppets

Additional Muppets performed by Adam Behr, Jeny Cassidy, Drew Massey, Gord Robertson, Geoff Redknap, and James Rowley.

Steve Whitmire and Dave Goelz appear as audience members at Aunt Em's Diner during the finale.


When The Walt Disney Company acquired the Muppets franchise from The Jim Henson Company in February 2004,[1][2] the Muppets were re-introduced to the public by marketing products and guest appearing on television shows such as Good Morning America and America's Funniest Home Videos. After a new film titled The Muppets' Wizard of Oz was announced by The Jim Henson Company,[1][3] Fox Television Studios, Touchstone Television, and the Muppets Holding Company signed on to help produce it.[1]

Filming took place throughout September 2004 in Vancouver, British Columbia.[2] Before filming, ABC announced that the production would adapt elements from the original 1900 book, rather than the 1939 film.[4] such as the Silver Shoes instead of the Ruby slippers. On August 25, 2004, it was announced that Hilary Duff, Jessica Simpson, and Ashanti had auditioned for the role of Dorothy Gale, but Ashanti had won the part.[5][6] When asked about how she felt about working with the Muppets, Ashanti replied, "I love children, and to me, the Muppets are just like little kids."[7] She also stated, "The director had to give me a few pointers and tips for acting with them, but the most important thing that I learned was to keep eye contact."[7] Also in August 2004, BBC News reported that Quentin Tarantino would appear in the film.[2]


Michael Giacchino, who had previously worked on a Muppet-related project which is video game Muppet Monster Adventure and would become an Academy Award-winning composer, worked with Jeannie Lurie, Adam Cohen, Debra Frank, and Steve Hayes to write five original songs for the film.[2][8] The five songs created were "Kansas", "When I'm With You", "It's a Good Life", "The Witch is in the House", and "Nap Time". "When I'm With You" was later nominated for a Primetime Emmy in the Outstanding Music and Lyrics category,[9] but lost to "Mary Jane/Mary Lane" from Reefer Madness.[9] Ashanti and the Muppet cast, mainly Bill Barretta and Eric Jacobson, contributed the vocals for each of the songs.[8] Ted Kryczko produced the album, Booker T. Washington White prepared the songs for recording, and Paul Silveira and Brandon Christy mixed the film's songs.[8]


Best of the Muppets featuring The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
Soundtrack album
Released May 17, 2005
Recorded Walt Disney Studios
Genre Pop/Rock
Length 29:52[8]
Label Walt Disney
Producer Sam Pottle
The Muppets chronology
The Muppet Show: Music, Mayhem, and More
Best of Muppets featuring The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas

The Muppets' Wizard of Oz official soundtrack was released on May 17, 2005.[10] The album was an enhanced soundtrack titled Best of Muppets featuring The Muppets' Wizard of Oz as it was not a film-specific soundtrack, but an album featuring the Muppets' best songs from The Muppet Show as well as songs from the film.[10]

Track listing[10]

  1. "(Gotta Get Outta)[11] Kansas" - Ashanti
  2. "When I'm With You" – Ashanti, Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie & Pepe
  3. "The Witch Is in the House" – Miss Piggy with Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem
  4. "Calling All Munchkins" – The Munchkin Tap-Your-Knuckles Choir
  5. "Good Life" – Ashanti
  6. "Nap Time" – Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem
  7. "The Muppet Show Theme" – The Muppets
  8. "Mah Nà Mah Nà"– Mahna Mahna & the Two Snowths
  9. "Bein' Green"– Kermit the Frog
  10. "Rainbow Connection" – Kermit & Muppets With Sesame Street Gang
  11. "Lady of Spain" – Marvin Suggs & his Muppaphone
  12. "Halfway Down the Stairs"– Kermit & Robin
  13. "What Now My Love?" – Miss Piggy
  14. "Tenderly" – Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem
  15. "Happy Feet" – Kermit and the Frog Chorus


The Muppets' Wizard of Oz premiered on April 27, 2005 at the Tribeca Film Festival.[12] The television premiere was on May 20, 2005 at 8:00pm on ABC in the US, where it was rated TV-PG.[13] It aired in Canada on CBC Television, and in the UK on December 18, 2005. In the US, the film's official soundtrack was released on May 17, 2005.[10] Buena Vista Home Entertainment released the DVD and VHS in both the US and in international territories.[13] The film was released to Region 1 DVD and VHS on August 9, 2005.[14] The Canadian Home Video Classification System rated the film G for all home video releases within Canadian territories.[15] The Region 2 DVD was released on April 3, 2006.[16] The film was rated U by the British Board of Film Classification,[17] K-3 in Finland,[18] and G in Australia.[19] The DVD and VHS were released under the title Extended Version in the US[14] and Anniversary Edition outside the US.[16] The extended version contains 20 minutes of footage cut from the feature film,[20] including the footage of the Kelly Osbourne and Quentin Tarantino cameos.[20] The DVD and VHS included an extended interview with Quentin Tarantino, a blooper reel, and a behind-the-scenes look at the film guided by Pepe the Prawn.[21] In the US, the DVD and VHS release of the film was in a 1.33:1 (fullscreen) aspect ratio, whereas the international versions are in the original 1.78:1 (widescreen) aspect ratio.[14][19] During Macy's annual Flower Show promotion, the store's windows along Broadway displayed flower arrangements illustrating six scenes from the movie, while the store sold The Muppets' Wizard of Oz-related merchandise, such as plush dolls.[22]

Critical reception

7.75 million viewers watched The Muppets' Wizard of Oz on its television premiere night in the United States; it ranked as the forty-second most-watched television program of the week.[23] Michael Schneider of Variety wrote that it "performed solidly ... particularly with adults 18–34, teens and kids."[24] The film received negative reviews from critics. At Rotten Tomatoes, the movie currently holds a 38% "rotten" rating, with an average of three out of eight critics giving the film a positive review.[25]

For the film's positive response, Kevin Carr stated that "When you dig down and actually find (and watch) the new Muppet material, some of the magic is still there."[26] MaryAnn Johanson of Flick Filosopher said that, "It's not on a par with the Muppet movie madness of old, but it's darn close."[27] According to the Bums Corner's review the film was a "treat for all ages, and that it was a colorful, musical, humorous romp."[28] Keith Allen of Movie Rapture gave the film 2.5 stars out of 3, explaining that the film's humor was surprisingly clever, and that the film would frequently make you laugh.[29] Mutant Reviewers commented that although the Muppet deal with Walt Disney was "disappointing", the film managed to be funny and witty.[30]

For the film's "negative" response, David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews warned that the film was "strictly for kids"[31] Nusair stated that although Ashanti can sing, she cannot act.[31] Joshua Tyler of Cinema Blend explained that Dorothy visiting the Wizard of Oz to become a star instead of going back home was a big mistake,[32] and that it showed how shallow society has become.[32] R.J. Carter of The Trades gave the film a B-, also stating that Dorothy's wish to become a star was a selfish one.[33] Ultimate Disney's review found that the extended version of the film did more harm than good;[20] Andy Dursin of The Aisle Seat said that the original film was "dull" and that the extended version was actually an improvement.[34] Cold Fusion Video felt that although the film was entertaining, it lacked the heart and wit of Jim Henson's Muppet films.[35] Bryan Pope of DVD Verdict said that the film drained the Muppets of their spirit and was slightly gratuitous.[36] Techtite TV reviews felt that the film was done poorly on all levels, and that the film was on the higher end of TV-PG.[37]

Other reviewers felt that the film's attempt to appeal to an older, more mature audience was ultimately a bad idea. Kerry Bennett of Parent Previews warned that it sometimes steered "dangerously off course" due to an excess of sexual content and violence.[15] Referential humor to the marriage of Jennifer Lopez, Manolo Blahnik style silver shoes, and films such as Girls Gone Wild, The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypse Now, and Kill Bill: Volume 1 were seen as too mature.[31][38] Cold Fusion Video judged the Kelly Osbourne cameo as "pointless".[35] Dursin contrasted the two guest appearances and found that the Tarantino cameo dragged the film down.[34] Critics were split on the merits of ABC's modernized adaptation to rely on plot elements from the original novel instead of the iconic 1939 film.[4][39]

See also

List of television films produced for American Broadcasting Company


  1. 1 2 3 "The Muppets at the Jim Henson Company." The Jim Henson Company. Retrieved: April 26, 2008.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Tarantino to star in Muppets film," BBC News, August 27, 2004, Retrieved: April 26, 2008.
  3. Gates, Anita. "Muppets as Munchkins: We're Not in Kansas Anymore." The New York Times, May 20, 2005, p. E26. Retrieved: March 11, 2008.
  4. 1 2 Adalian, Josef. "The Muppets ready to take Oz." Variety, March 15, 2004. Retrieved: April 26, 2008.
  5. Norment, Lynn. "Ashanti: Answers critics & doubters." Ebony, March 2005. Retrieved: April 26, 2008.
  6. "For The Record: Quick News On Ashanti, Usher, Phil Spector, Taking Back Sunday, Kanye West, Jay-Z & More." MTV, August 25, 2004. Retrieved: April 26, 2008.
  7. 1 2 Fonseca, Nicholas. "Wizard of Frog." Entertainment Weekly, Issue 820, p. 66, May 20, 2005. Retrieved: April 26, 2008.
  8. 1 2 3 4 The Best of the Muppets featuring The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. Walt Disney Records, 2005.
  9. 1 2 "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz nominated for Primetime Emmy." Emmy Awards. Retrieved: March 27, 2008.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Soundtrack.", 2005. Retrieved: March 4, 2008.
  11. The Muppets' Wizard of Oz DVD Film Intro, Closed Captioning. Walt Disney Home Video, 2005. Retrieved: April 26, 2008.
  12. "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz to premiere on April 27th, 2005 at the Tribeca Film Festival." The Futon Critic, March 29, 2005. Retrieved: March 8, 2008.
  13. 1 2 "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz at Disney Videos." Disney Videos. Retrieved: April 8, 2008.
  14. 1 2 3 "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz DVD/VHS." Retrieved: March 4, 2008.
  15. 1 2 Bennett, Kerry. "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz." Parent Previews. Retrieved: April 4, 2008.
  16. 1 2 "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Region 2 DVD." Retrieved: March 4, 2008.
  17. "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz rated U by the BBFC." BBFC. Retrieved: March 7, 2008.
  18. "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz rated "3" by the FBFC (VET)." VET. Retrieved: March 7, 2008.
  19. 1 2 "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz – Anniversary Edition." EzyDVD. Retrieved: March 7, 2008.
  20. 1 2 3 "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Ultimate Disney DVD review." Ultimate Disney, August 9, 2005. Retrieved: April 26, 2008.
  21. "DVD at" Retrieved: March 4, 2008.
  22. "Muppet Wizardry at Macys." License, Vol. 8, Issue 4, p. 11, May 2005. Retrieved: January 17, 2012.
  23. "Weekly Program Rankings." ABC Medianet, May 24, 2005. Retrieved: October 22, 2008.
  24. Schneider, Michael. "The Muppets pull strings at ABC." Variety, October 24, 2005. Retrieved: April 5, 2008.
  25. "The Muppets: Wizard of Oz at Rotten Tomatoes." Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved: November 23, 2008.
  26. Carr, Kevin. "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Kevin Carr review." 7Mpictures. Retrieved: March 5, 2008.
  27. Johanson, MaryAnn. "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Maryann Johanson review." Flick Filosopher. Retrieved: March 4, 2008.
  28. "Bums Corner review." Bums Corner, May 21, 2005. Retrieved: March 4, 2008.
  29. Allen, Keith. "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005)." Movie Rapture. Retrieved: March 4, 2008.
  30. "Mutant Reviewers from Hell do The Muppets' Wizard of Oz." Mutant Reviewers. Retrieved: March 4, 2008.
  31. 1 2 3 Nusair, David. "Five Muppet Movies from Disney." Reel Film Reviews. Retrieved: March 5, 2008.
  32. 1 2 Tyler, Joshua. "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz - DVD." Cinema Blend, July 31, 2005. Retrieved: March 7, 2008.
  33. Carter, R.J. "DVD Review: The Muppets' Wizard of Oz." The Trades, August 7, 2005. Retrieved: April 4, 2008.
  34. 1 2 "Kung Fu Craziness: Andy Reviews Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle Plus: Winn-Dixie and The Muppets Visit Oz!" The Aisle Seat, August 10, 2005. Retrieved: April 4, 2008.
  35. 1 2 "Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, The (2005)." Cold Fusion Video, August 31, 2005. Retrieved: April 4, 2008.
  36. "Bryan Pope review." DVD Verdict. Retrieved: April 4, 2008.
  37. "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz: A Review by Techtite." Techtite TV Reviews. Retrieved: April 4, 2008.
  38. Kelleher, Terry. "The Muppets' Wizard Of Oz." People, Volume 63, Issue 20, May 23, 2005, p. 39.
  39. "Richard Scheib film review.", 2007. Retrieved: April 4, 2008.

External links

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