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After the Wizard

"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.

With:
With: Orien Richman, Jermel Nakia, Helen Richman, Loren Lester, Peter Mark Richman, Susan Giosa, Jordan Van Vranken.

“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.

After the Wizard

Production: 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.

Crew: 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.

With: With: Orien Richman, Jermel Nakia, Helen Richman, Loren Lester, Peter Mark Richman, Susan Giosa, Jordan Van Vranken.

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