Our next Crush-a-Thon contributor is Nathan Withrow, who you may know better as Bubbawheat. His site, Flights Tights & Movie Nights, deals with films inspired by the world of comics and superheroes. He also hosts the Film Whys Podcast. On each episode another film blogger has him watch a classic movie he’s never seen before, and Bubba has them watch a superhero flick.
His crush: Jenny Lewis
There’s a couple things that I want to get out of the way first when talking about my crush in this movie. When I was growing up, I never really had crushes on the hottest of the hot, the supermodels or the gorgeous actresses. I think a large part of that was because I was more of a realist, and those kinds of women are attractive, and yet they don’t feel like real people. Instead, I gravitated much more to not only the girl next door type, but the actresses that were close to my age. I didn’t care for Cindy Crawford, I was much more interested in Winnie Cooper. Who cares about Lisa, I’m much more interested in Clarissa Darling. When Jurassic Park came out, I fell for Lex because I was the same age. And when “My So-Called Life” came out there was no one else except Angela. But the movie I chose takes me way back to possibly one of my first crushes.
When this movie first came out, I would have been 9 years old, though I can’t remember if I watched it in theaters, so I quite possibly would have seen it on VHS or TV when I was 10 or 11. I also grew up with video games, we had a Coleco-vision and I fondly remember playing Ladybug and Mouse Trap, our Commodore 64 with Jumpman and Impossible Mission, I even briefly had a Sega Master System and I remember searching out 3 or 4 different rental stores before finding the only place in town that actually had a selection of Sega games for rent. But of course the big thing was when I got a Nintendo. And The Wizard is steeped in Nintendo nostalgia. I mentioned Winnie Cooper from the “Wonder Years” already, so this movie had two selling points for me: Nintendo and Kevin Arnold. I know he’s a different character in this movie, but it’s hard for me to see Fred Savage as anything other than Kevin Arnold. And watching this movie now brought me right back. I doubt that this movie would hold up for many people outside of my age range, but watching this movie totally felt like opening a time capsule of my youth.
I haven’t seen this movie in years, and while there was a lot of the movie I had forgotten about, like the whole subplot about this sleazy, pedophile-looking private investigator who somehow makes a living retrieving runaway kids, and he keeps having run-ins with the two kids’ father and older brother played by Beau Bridges and Christian Slater. Not to mention the fact that the whole reason why Jimmy was considered to have a mental problem was because of the death of his twin sister. But I still remembered so much, from the Power Glove, “He touched my breast!”, to the big reveal of Super Mario Bros. 3. Wow, the way I’m going on about it, you might think that my real crush in this movie was actually the video games. But the best part of this movie is still the fiery little redhead who joins up with a couple runaways on their way to the Nintendo world championship in California, Haley, played by Jenny Lewis. As soon as she peeks out from behind her magazine in the bus station it’s obvious she has attitude.
Even watching it again, I thought that Haley was the best part of the movie. Obviously the crush has passed, but she gets the funniest moments from the very start. She’s got a lot of attitude and can be a bit on the bossy side, but she is very much a fiery redhead and gets what she wants, like that great moment when Kevin Arnold tries to smoothly go in for a kiss only to get completely rejected for mere moments before Haley pulls him back in. She also knows how to gamble and delivers the best line when she screams across the casino/arcade “he touched my breast!” There’s even the hint of jealousy when they meet up with a total 80’s era pre-teen heartthrob, Lucas. Oh man, Lucas was a high point for me in this movie, with his tousled hair, his very 80’s fashion, and best of all, the Power Glove. The high point in Nintendo era pointless technology that was cool even though it never really worked as well as they made it out to. I did even know one kid who had one, and we couldn’t get it to work very well.
Aside from the major nostalgia boost this movie has with me, I have to admit that it’s completely ridiculous that these kids would make it all the way from Ohio to California at that age without having the police called on them, and that the “detective” and the dad and brother would somehow be on the correct path as the kids and keep running into each other. But the nostalgia factor is a huge one for me, and if you look past the incredulities, it is still a fun movie to watch. Even my wife and daughter enjoyed it without having lived through that era. It was a total blast from the past and I loved getting the chance to revisit this film.