A few months back, I stopped whatever world-changing activity I was engaged in (looking for a matching pair of socks, I think) and stared at the television.
My 5-year-old -- whom we'll call Lucy, because that's her name -- had somehow found "The Wiz" on Netflix. I don't know how; I can't even figure out which remote goes with which television. She was absolutely engrossed.
"Dad, that's Dorothy and that's her DOG and there's MICHAEL JACKSON and look at her silver shoes and I have silver shoes and this is the Wizard of OZ!"
Well, not quite. But I wasn't about to stop her. At least she seemed to know what was going on. Now that I think about it, that may be more than we can say about the people who actually made "The Wiz."
From left, Nipsey Russell (Tin Man) Diana Ross, (Dorothy) and Michael Jackson (Scarecrow) in a scene from the film "The Wiz."
( ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES)
But I understood her excitement. I was 11 or so when "The Wiz" came out, and at the time, I loved it. It had music and Michael Jackson and Nipsey Russell, who I didn't know was allowed off the set of "Match Game." I probably saw it two or three times in the theater.
But what I had remembered from back then was not what was on the television my kid was rooted in front of.
Scenes were incredibly long and took way too much time to unfold. Outside of a couple of songs, the music wasn't as great as I'd remembered. And if I had to listen to Diana Ross scream "TOOOOTOOOO" one more time, in the most shrill voice she could muster, I was prepared to pull my ears out of my head.
Wow, I thought. Perception sure changes after a few (OK, 35) years.
"The Wiz" isn't the only movie that fails to live up to my childhood memories. It goes to show that either I had horrible taste as a child, or that I should avoid watching any movie I loved during the '70s not starting with "Star" and ending with "Wars." Here are a few other examples, off the top of my head: "Star Trek": It's the only "Star Trek" movie that's now generally unwatchable. Man, was I excited when this came out, after years of watching reruns. And, man, watching this movie now is the cinematic equivalent of watching concrete dry. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band": Before you go berserk on me, again, I was 11 when this came out and didn't understand what the word "abomination" meant. I was a big Peter Frampton fan at the time, and c'mon, it was 90 minutes of Beatles songs. So what if those songs were butchered by every act that performed them (outside of Earth, Wind & Fire and Aerosmith)? Plus those girls in Stargard made me feel tingly in places I didn't know tingled. But, wow, what were they thinking when they made this? Oh, right. Money. "Thank God It's Friday": I remember thinking that this would be like "Saturday Night Fever," only, well, on a Friday. I loved the Commodores and loved the idea of becoming a big kid and going out to places like a disco. Now I look back and wonder how the filmmakers got away with making a kid think that. "Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park": Of course this couldn't be anything but awful. I'm pretty sure I even knew it at the time. Some kids my age even hated it. But Kiss was my favorite band, so I championed it like it was "Gone With the Wind." Now, even thinking about this movie makes my head hurt. "Purple Rain": One of the rare examples of a film possessing such amazing music that it conned people into thinking the movie itself was good. I loved this movie when I was in high school. I also didn't know my rear end from a hole in the ground when I was in high school.
Hopefully, Lucy's taste will improve faster than mine did.
Contact Tony Hicks at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks or Twitter.com/insertfoot.