'Oz the Great & Powerful' -- Should Your Kids See the Movie?

Oz the Great and Powerful James Franco Mila KunisIt's finally here! Oz the Great and Powerful opens in theaters today, and I can finally take my daughter! I wasn't sure if I would, to be honest. I wondered if the new Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, and James Franco movie was going to be too scary for a 7-year-old.

After all, the Wizard of Oz that generations of kids have grown up with is as feared as it is beloved by children. But after attending the red carpet premiere of Oz at Disney's El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles last month, along with the stars of the film, I felt like I had enough information to decide if she could handle it.

Not sure if your kids will be scared by Oz the Great and Powerful? After watching the film, here's what I think parents need to know:

1. This is not a remake. If you're afraid this will "ruin" the original for your kids (cough, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, cough, cough), fear not! This is not a remake of the Judy Garland classic. Instead it's a prequel, based on the first of more than a dozen Oz books from writer L. Frank Baum.

2. It's 3D. If your kids tend to be scared when things jump out at them, well, expect that to happen in a 3D film! Some theaters will be showing it on a traditional screen, which shouldn't be as scary for kids (that's where I'll be taking my 7-year-old).

3. There is no violence. When I chatted with director Sam Raimi (a father of five), I specifically asked how he balanced the fear factor in this film, and he was pretty up-front about it:

That’s something I was weighing all throughout the process ... I’d made sure there was no violence in the thing ‘cause I really wanted to make it a family picture. And there really isn’t any violence in the thing. The worst it gets is, um, these real scary baboons come out of the mist where they go looking for our main characters, so they hide in the cave. Or, um, or there’s a scary witch at the very end.

4. The witch is pretty scary. Prequel or not, the main villain of the Oz we grew up with as children still makes an appearance. In fact, you get to see one of the "good" witches transform into her in a pretty spectacular scene. The good news is you will know it's coming, so you can give your kiddos' little hands a squeeze or gather them on your lap.

5. The flying monkey is hilarious. Played by Zach Braff, this little guy is far from scary; in fact he's the comic relief of the film! The flying baboons, on the other hand, well, they're kind of freaky ... watch out for them!

6. Bad witches are "dealt" with. No one gets a house dropped on her, but be prepared for one serious bit of reckoning for one naughty witch.

7. It's chock full of references to the original. From actual horses in different colors (get it?) to the use of the last name Gale (Dorothy's last name!), there's a lot fans will recognize. Consider making it a game with your kids to see who spots the most.

8. It's PG. That means parental guidance suggested, and I definitely suggest it!

So is it for your kid? That's up to you -- you know your kid better than I do! I just know mine hasn't put down her Glinda doll since I brought it home from LA.

Will you be taking your child to see Oz the Great and Powerful?


Image via Disney


Disclaimer: Disney covered my expenses to attend the red carpet premiere of Oz the Great and Powerful. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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nonmember avatar Anon

I took my kids last night to a special showing. Ages 8 and 5. They both thought it was quite a bit scary. It was very realistic, as the flying monkeys were intimidating. The green witch also scared them a bit. They did both enjoy it however. I think you know your kid best. If they get scared at realistic things then it might be best to see it on a DVD instead of on the big screen.

nonmember avatar Cynthia

2 of my 3 kids' birthdays are the end of this month, and my sister sent kids movie passes for all 3. Because their birthdays fall over Spring Break, we will very likely be taking them to see this movie. They are 10, 7, and 4 but have watched all the Harry Potters, Twilights and many other movies and don't generally get scared by them, plus they'll have both Mom and Dad with them. We can't wait!

Tina Goff

When did people get so freakin' paranoid about movies?  Maybe, just maybe, watching a movie that a tiny bit scary can be good for a kid.  Being SO SHELTERED all the time can't be good for kids.  I'm not saying take them to a horror movie, but my gosh.   It's a PG kids movie.  Didn't you watch anything as a kid?  Even cartoons in the 70s/80s/90s had some 'scary' moments.  I LOVED "The Never Ending Story" when I was a kid and parts of that are pretty scary for a 5 year old.  I loved the scary parts too!  When Gmork jumps out of the cave!  Holy cow!  But as a kid, you feel BRAVER having watched it.  It's ok to be scared at a scary part in a movie.  It shows that your kid can make that emotional connection to a movie, and understand the story being told.  It's fun to me scared when there is no real danger.  That's the point of real scary movies, and a few small moments in a children's film is the same concept on a scaled down level.  I think the real problem stems from adults who don't want to take the time to explain to their kids that movies aren't real.  Are you worried about nightmares?  Because those will happen even if your kids never see a movie in their life.  I had a nightmare as a kid that oscillating fans were giant eyes watching people in their houses.  Crazy right?  And it didn't come from watching a movie.  Dreams happen.  Let your kids have an adventure with a great movie.   

Elena EricLover

Wow, Tina! I loved your way of thinking.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Yes I will and my kids know its 'just a movie'. Our 4 year old went to the avengers movie twice and was glued to the screen, he would talk about the movie and understand its not real. I watched crazy scary movies when I was young and it never bothered me, at all. I had older boy cousins who thought I would get scared, they were surprised when I said don't turn the channel. So they would sit with me and watch. I still love scary movies to this day. Guess what? I never killed anyone.

nonmember avatar HN

In response to an earlier comment, I can't believe you let your 4 year old see Twilight, or even the 7 and 10 year olds. I watched scary movies as a small child and I would never let my kids do it. There is plenty of time for that when they're older.

Sonya Enslow Caudle

Great review! Before I got my chance to see the premier here in ABQ that was probably one of the biggest questions on my mind also! But like you I came away with the realization that kids today are alot tougher than I was as a 5yr old and that even my 4yr old grandson would love this movie! IMO (for what it might be worth) Oz the Great and Powerful is much tamer in the 'fright' department than The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland! I would highly recommend it to all!

nonmember avatar Victoria

i agree with Tina, when i was 4 my grandma let me watch 3 nightmare on elm street movies in one night, and i never had a single nightmare! i knew it as fake, so yes, while it was on i was scared, but once it was over i was fine! my parents also let me watch all sorts of horror films. the only thing they didnt let me watch was stuff with a lot of sex scenes, boobs were fine (as i would have them one day), but i had to cover my eyes or leave the room with actual sex. i've never killed anyone, i never suffered from nightmares related to them. and to HN, twilight isnt scary! a 4 year old might not understand the content relating to relationships, but as long as you make sure your kids know movies aren't real, they will be fine. you may have a few nightmares depending on your child, but so what? nightmares are normal, i still get them sometimes! they need to learn to deal with them as well.

nonmember avatar Shiree

I LOVED the original Charlie and the Chocolate factory AND LOVE the revamp thank you very much. Anyway I know a 2 year old that can see violence in Brave at the movies and not cause a scene. His sister is a bit different but whatever.

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