“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” becomes grist for an earnest exercise in child therapy in “After the Wizard,” a maudlin drama about a modern-day Kansas girl who identifies a bit too closely with the characters in L. Frank Baum’s beloved storybook. Primarily a fish-out-of-water fantasy in which the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman find themselves traversing the Midwest, writer-director Hugh Gross’ wooden if well-meaning indie has its charms, but may leave over-imaginative tots feeling patronized rather than captivated. Pic will segue quickly to DVD following a brief theatrical release.Troubled 12-year-old orphan Elizabeth (Jordan Van Vranken) is mildly Oz-obsessed, insisting everyone call her Dorothy and imagining the Scarecrow (Jermel Nakia) and the Tin Woodman (Orien Richman) have traveled to Kansas by hot-air balloon, car and train to find her. Plodding between a wide-eyed, childlike perspective and the frowning skepticism of a concerned orphanage director (Helen Richman), the gentle-toned pic pays dubious tribute to Baum’s classic, the power of the imagination and the kindness of strangers. Nakia and Richman are both game (and inventively costumed on a budget by Stephanie Powers), but Toto gives the best performance by a mile.
A Breaking Glass Pictures release of a Private Lenders Group presentation of a Good Start production. Produced by Lance Frank. Directed, written by Hugh Gross, based on characters created by L. Frank Baum.
Camera (color, HD), Dana Rice; editor, Rice; music, Stephen Main; set designer, David E. Mendoza; costume designer, Stephanie Powers. Reviewed on DVD, Pasadena, Calif., Aug. 7, 2012. Running time: 80 MIN.
Orien Richman, Jermel Nakia, Helen Richman, Loren Lester, Peter Mark Richman, Susan Giosa, Jordan Van Vranken.