Well, I just thought this out and I’m probably messing with a lot of demons here, but please here me out a little bit. To everyone that not knows anything about the movie “The Wizard” from 1989, a little summary is required.
The Wizard is a product plug for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Mario Bros 3. It tells the story of a young boy named Jimmy Woods, played by Luke Edwards, that wants to visit California for some strange reason, which is only told by the end of the movie. Jimmy is institutionalized for having serious mental problems, caused by the death of his twin sister, and his brother Corey, played by Fred Savage, breaks him free of the nut house to take him to California. On the way, they discover the ability in Nintendo video-games that Jimmy possesses as being a slowpoke and, as Corey tries to skim money from dopes just as Jimmy, they meet with Haley (acted out by Jenny Lewis), a mercenary girl that tells them about the Video Armageddon, a gaming tournament that grants 50,000 dollars to the winner. Looking back, the only reason I guess that people went to see this movie was because they heard someone saying that Jerry Lewis was playing a mercenary girl. It must’ve been a box office hit on France.
So long story short: big trauma, boy with mental issues good at video-games that is called “The Wizard”.
Where the fuck has I seen that before?
I went nuts trying to figure that out. I was watching movie after movie after movie after movie trying to understand. I seriously mean movie after movie. I watched fucking Casablanca trying to understand where I was thinking where the hell have I already heard that. I started watching shorts; Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry… even anima mundi shorts! I gave up occidental stuff and started looking at my manga and anime collection. I couldn’t fucking figure it out. Where the hell have I seen that? Was it Rurouni Kenshin? Was it Saint Seiya? Was it Detective Kenishi? I really got pretty bat shit lunatic. I showed “The Wizard” to my parents and to my brother, and they didn’t recognize the story from anywhere else as well. They still thought the movie was shit, but they thought it was original shit. Maybe I was mistaken: maybe it was the fact that I saw Doug’s review then the James’ review and made a mistake. It is possible.
But it wasn’t. I wasn’t mistaken. And for that, a stretch of time is needed, as well as a stretch of genre.
The year is 1969. The man firsts step at the moon. “Earth, Wind and Fire” was born, the bearded guitarists of “ZZ Top” first united, “Abbey Road” from the Beatles was released, which was the last album of the Liverpool quartet ever recorded, as well as “Led Zeppelin II” got to the stores. George Lazenby made that God awful James Bond flick, “Midnight Cowboy” gets the Academy Award for Best Picture and Sylvester Stallone debuts on camera in soft-core porn.
At this year, a band formed by a guitarist who sang, a graduate in grammar who played the guitar, his colleague who could play the bass and a wife abuser who was encouraged to stop playing the drums as a drummer, was trying to release a follow-up to a concept album that was really successful. So, when the guitarist grammar geek said “I am working on a full-length rock opera” the rest just bowed and listen. And that is what now is known as The Who’s “Tommy”.
For those who aren’t familiar with “Tommy”, it was the first rock opera ever released. In the middle of rock and roll and psychedelic music, they tell a story of a kid, named Tommy, who caught his mom getting in bed with his “uncle” as his dad was presumably on the war (Concept disc cliché 1: If the dad’s missing, blame the war!). When the dad comes back and sees his wife getting some, he’s structured in awe and kills the lover, as both mom and dad sing to the kid that he haven’t saw anything, he haven’t heard anything and he shouldn’t say anything. Obviously, with that, the kid gets blind, deaf and mute in an instant. That totally makes sense. In FUCKING ROCK WORLD! So, as his mother and father finally get guilty after raising the bills of this kid’s psychiatrists of the future, they try to fix his problems by taking him to a churchman and a pimp. Really? A pimp?
Well, enough about that, the story really takes a strange curve when the plot device is handed to him: the Pinball machine. Well, in a really pop keyboard song, in many versions played and sang by the queen of keyboards, Elton John, Tommy really gets good in playing pinball, beating the incredible “Local Lad” in a pinball competition for the best of the world. In a note, how much you must suck at pinball to lose to a blind and deaf kid? I could understand if he was only deaf and try to buy the whole blindness part if it was a pinball made for the blind, with spoken instructions. But he was deaf and blind. The lyrics say that the reason he is so good at pinball is that he doesn’t get distracted by the bells and lights of the game. He is also not distracted by THE FUCKING BALL AND PADDLES. The lyrics also say that he plays by sense of smell, which would make playing pinball a giant mess of smells. Just imagine those arcades with those kids who haven’t showered in weeks because of their high scores in pinball sweating all over the machine. Those are the sweet fragrance of nature that he smells. He smells Eau de Nerd! And he wins Elton John in pinball!
But can you guess the name of the song that the pinball match is mentioned? “Pinball Wizard”.
I know is kind of farfetched but the whole construction of this chapter of the story and the entire concept of the movie “The Wizard” seem to me like more that a coincidence. I know that not copying The Who’s “Tommy” wouldn’t make the movie more or less sucky than it is and I mean it when I say that “Tommy” isn’t all that. But the resemblance is uncanny, and I believe that Nintendo really grabbed this “Who”’s idea and placed Nintendo all over it. Some would call it nitpicking, I would call it plagiarism.
For those more interested in “Tommy”, there was actually a movie released six years later, featuring lots of artist stars singing the songs, like Tina Turner as the Acid Queen, Eric Clapton as the Preacher, Elton John as the Local Lad and the doctor who analyzes Tommy that is played by young Jack Nicholson. Don’t watch it expecting really good acting or excitement, and if you aren’t a Who enthusiast or don’t want to listen to something by The Who, stay away from this movie.
This is JotaKa, signing off.