“The Wizard” (1989)

the Wizard poster

“Ohhhh! Mamma mia!”
-Super Mario



This prequel to Rain Man stars Fred Savage as a young Tom Cruise and some other 80’s kid whose name I don’t remember as Dustin Hoffman with autism, although The Wizard never mentions that he has autism because it hadn’t been invented yet. You know what else hadn’t been invented yet by the time The Wizard was released? The 90’s.


Tobey Maguire with a mullet in a pink shirt on the far left. Dude just can’t catch a break.

The Wizard is quintessentially 80’s with its emphasis on divorce, cussing in a family movie, Fred Savage, Mario Brothers, divorce, bright neon shirts, dim-witted truckers, 80’s rock music, montages, mullets, product placement, overuse of slang like “butthead” and “psyche”, and, “like”, more divorce. You’ll hardly be able to believe your “radical”, sunglasses-shaded eyes at this lighthearted family film involving three kids (a wig-headed, pale-faced girl, the autistic one, and Fred Savage) conning their way to California to force young and autistic Dustin Hoffman to play in this video game tournament and win $50,000 “smackaroons”. Remember that Fred Savage doesn’t learn that this is unethical until he grows up to become Tom Cruise.

Autistic-brother might win the tournament at the end of the movie (oops, “sperlers erlert!“) but the real winner is Nintendo. The Wizard is really just one long commercial for the company and their Nintendo Entertainment System. You’ll see full grown adults playing it. Dad spends all night hooked on it. Footage is shown of Super Mario Bros. 3 coinciding with its North America release. The girl-character calls the Nintendo hotline. Plenty of different titles get their limelight: Ninja GaidenTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Mario Bros. 3Mega Man II, Double Dragon, and Metroid. It even has the frickin’ Power Glove in it! And it’s so bad.

So yeah, the winner is Nintendo. And also Fred Savage. He got to pretend to kiss a girl for the first and last time.


Actual line: “He touched my breast!” Thanks for that, Nintendo.



The 8-Bit Review
visual Visuals: 3/10
The special effects aren’t too bad but when 8-bit Nintendo graphics have more depth than the whole cast trying to emote, you’re in pretty bad shape. That’s because all of The Wizard’s budget went into trying to touch up Fred Savage’s acting. The best part of the movie is when the director told him to put on a mask and he gets punched in the face.

audio Audio: 9/10
80’s rock! Bring on the synth, the snares, the bass lines, the cheesy keyboards and the gravelly voices!

gameplay Gameplay: 1/10
My TV remote control wasn’t very responsive when I tried to mute or change the channel.
story Narrative: 2/10
Yeah, yeah, brother with special needs is special because he’s good at something that “normal” people can abuse for their own personal gain. Thanks, Nintendo, for hammering that lesson home. The Wizard is called The Wizard because Fred Savage’s little bro is a wizard at video games, if you haven’t pieced that together yet.

diff Challenge: 8/10
An 8? Shyeah, this tacky movie is a challenge to sit through.

replay Replayability: 2/10
Some people might want to watch The Wizard again to relive the nostalgia, but they’re the same kind of people that say “Hey, have you seen that new Geico commercial?”

unique Uniqueness: 1/10
Did I mention Rain Man?

pgrade My Personal Grade: 4/10
You’ll hate this movie. It’s so bad. Not “bad” as in “good in the eighties”. No. Just regular, Dictionary-defined “bad”.

26% on Rotten Tomatoes “bad”.

Aggregated Score: 3.7


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