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The Independent Critic

Jermel Nakia, Orien Richman, Jordan Van Vranken, Peter Mark Richman, Helen Richman, Loren Lester, Susan Giosa, P. David Miller, Sean Orr, Casey Fitzgerald, Nick Stellate, Seraiah Carol
Hugh Gross
80 Mins.
Breaking Glass Pictures
Director's Commentary; Interviews w/Cast; Featurette: World Premiere in Kansas

 "After the Wizard" Review 
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Breaking Glass Pictures is releasing the Dove Award recognized After the Wizard on home video with a street date of August 7th, a family film based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and characters created by L. Frank Baum. The film tells the story of a 12-year-old girl named Elizabeth (Jordan Van Vranken), an orphan who resides in the town of Kingman, Kansas. Like many girls her age, Elizabeth has read Baum's beloved novel. Unlike the vast majority of those girls, she believes herself to be Dorothy.

Perhaps, she is.

The school's headmistress (Helen Richman) worries about Elizabeth, who is constantly looking for Toto and a way back to Oz while consistently insisting that everyone refer to her as Dorothy. In Oz, on the other hand, things aren't going so well for the Scarecrow (Jermel Nakia), Tin Woodman (Orien Richman) or the Lion (P. David Miller). Oz is in trouble and the three believe that Dorothy is the key to saving their home, however, this time around they must find her. The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman embark on a cross-country adventure in an effort to find Dorothy in Kansas, a trip that has them traveling by hot air balloon, train, bus and by foot and encountering everyone from schoolchildren to Munchkins to a rather delightful Southern blind man (Peter Mark Richman) along the way.

Writer/director Hugh Gross is certainly giving it his best shot in creating a heartfelt, family friendly film that captures the creative spirit and innocence of the original Wizard of Oz while obviously being set in a more contemporary time. While the film doesn't quite achieve that Oz-like spirit, fans of Baum's novel will likely find much to enjoy here and, as well, those who have an appreciation for Dove-sealed films will no doubt appreciate the film's innocence and celebration of wonder.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the After the Wizard production is just how often you see the name Richman in the film's acting credits, an obvious tip of the hat to the film's family spirit and quite likely why the film feels like such a pure and inspired family effort. The film lacks the spontaneity and energy of its Oz predecessor, but it works largely on the strength of Gross's obvious vision for the film that includes a tremendously warm and comfortable original score by Stephen Main and D.P. Dana Rice's equally warm and relaxed camera work that basically takes the film from fantasy to reality.

The film's acting, on the other hand, is a bit more hit-and-miss with the brightest performances being turned in by Loren Lester as Dr. Edwards and Peter Mark Richman as Charles Samuel Williams. Jordan Van Vranken does fine as the aforementioned Elizabeth, 'er Dorothy, but there were times her costuming betrayed her a bit and gave her a darker aura than really fit her character.

The film will likely not work for everyone, but for fans of Oz and pure-hearted family entertainment, After the Wizard may very well fit the bill as a film that can easily be viewed by the entire family. It would make for an intriguing double bill with the original film, though you may find yourself explaining to your children how a film from 1939 can be so much more entertaining than a film made over 70 years later with so much more technology available.

The street date for After the Wizard is August 7th, though you can pre-order now through the Breaking Glass Pictures website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic