March 8, 2013

"When Franco says the word 'prestidigitation' behind his stoner’s grin, it’s as if he’s uttering it for the first time in English class."

Apparently the new 3D Disney "Oz the Great and Powerful" is terrible and James Franco is "woefully miscast" as the Wizard of Oz.

Is anyone ever miscast and not woefully miscast? Woefully is to miscast as scantily is to clad. Sorry, but the reviewer (WaPo's Ann Hornaday) invited English class thoughts.
Starting with a woefully miscast James Franco in the title role, continuing through a lame story line that’s merely a warmed-over version of the 1939 movie adaptation, and extending to visual effects that never approach the dazzlement and wonder of its revolutionary forbearer, “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a big, over-processed misfire that with a little more care and ingenuity might have lived up to its name.
Okay. Tough luck for fans of 3D children's material for kids and adults. It's all the same to me. But back to English class. Do you know the difference between a "forbearer" and a "forbear" (or "forebear")?  Hornaday doesn't. A "forbearer" is someone who refrains from doing something. If anyone is not a forbearer, it's a revolutionary.

An ancestor/forefather/progenitor is called a "forbear" or "forebear." You may think "forbear" is only a verb, but "bear," the suffix, comes from "beer," which means "one who is or exists." Does that seem weird? Break it in half. It's be-er. So you see why you don't need the "-er" on "forbear"? It's there already, in the "-ar." Don't let the drink "beer" or the animal "bear" confuse you here. Your forefathers are your forbears, and if they were forbearers you would not be a beer.

The OED quotes a 1786 Robert Burns poem "The Death And Dying Words Of Poor Mailie, The Author's Only Pet Yowe" which isn't about a bear but a sheep (yowe = ewe):
An' may they never learn the gaets,
Of ither vile, wanrestfu' pets—
To slink thro' slaps, an' reave an' steal
At stacks o' pease, or stocks o' kail!
So may they, like their great forbears,
For mony a year come thro the shears:
So wives will gie them bits o' bread,
An' bairns greet for them when they're dead.

76 comments:

Erika said...

Regarding the last line of the Robbie Burns poem: My favorite Scots word, after 'stooshie,' is 'greet.' I learned it from either the words to Loch Lomond, from my favorite novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum or from Alexander McCall Smith, the greatest living Scotsman after Ewan McGregor. To grieve, to cry, to ache, to yearn. What a useful word!

P.S. I share my birthday with both Robert Burns and Virginia Woolf. As a bibliophile, aren't I lucky?

Mitchell the Bat said...

"[T]he always-fetching Mila Kunis . . ."

Perhaps she's a dog.

EDH said...

A "forbearer" is someone who refrains from doing something. If anyone is not a forbearer, it's a revolutionary.

Actually, most liberals are "revolutionary forbearers".

They say they want a revolution, but once they get power, it's... "well you know..."

Ask John Lennon.

Revolution

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We'd all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We'd all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be alright [x3]

You say you got a real solution
Well you know
We'd all want to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well you know
We're all doing what we can
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you'll have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be alright [x4]

You say you'll change the constitution
Well you know
We'd all love to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know know it's gonna be alright [x3]
Alright [x7]

St. George said...

NEWARK, NJ, Aug. 22 (UPI) - Violence flared yesterday when roving bands of Negro youths broke windows and looted shops in riot-torn Newark. Mayor Kenneth Gibson had no immediate comment but, according to informed sources, he flatly denied saying that student unrest was behind the wholesale destruction that resulted in scores of buildings being gutted by fire, and added, "If this city were a Liberian freighter,* we just may have limped into port."

From "How to Write Good" by Michael "I want to feed your fingertips to the wolverines" O'Donohue.

Leland said...

Somewhat related... James Franco at the start of this year's Daytona 500: "Drivers, and Danica, start your engines!"

I guess Danica, at the wheel of the car in pole position, wasn't a driver?

Nonapod said...

Be-a(e)r: one who bes - I never put that together. Like Seer: One who sees.

Could decendants be called aftbears?

rcommal said...

Shockingly, Frank L. Baum wrote other books (11 other original ones; and then someone else continued the series for a while). I wish folks would mine those for material as opposed to continue remakes/reconfigurations of the first one. And I can't stand the 3-D medium for movies, either--literally (and I do mean "literally") headache-inducing for me.

Alexander said...

Why I love the Althouse blog.

john said...

... the suffix, comes from "beer," which means "one who is or exists."

As if I ever needed another reason to drink.

AJ Lynch said...

I saw Franco on Conan last night and thought "no one will know who he is in 10 years'.

Tibore said...

"Is anyone ever miscast and not woefully miscast?"

If it gets bad enough, it can come back around and turn into an epic miscasting.:D

lemondog said...

Goldilocks and the forbears.

Bob R said...

Good English lesson. If I had written the word, I probably would have made the same mistake as Hornaday and the editors of the WaPo. I don't think I've said the word or written it. But if I had tried, I would have gone with an air-er sound. Now I won't.

MadisonMan said...

You can be clad in armor, and not be scantily clad.

I've two FB friends who saw Oz and had a stronger reaction: Their's was Worst Movie Seen.

Julie C said...

So is James Franco the new Anne Hathaway?

She can act at least.

jimbino said...

The forego/forego distinction is something most folks get wrong, including lawyers.

ricpic said...

You can ha' your wild romantics
Wi' their flights a' fancy free,
Gi' me in the barnyard Robbie
He's the earthen mon fa' me.

EMD said...

I suspect either James McAvoy or Benedict Cumberbatch would have been better cast as Oz.

Franco doesn't even look like Frank Morgan!

ricpic said...

Franco can't make up his mind which false image to project.

Nomennovum said...

I would say that Franco was tragically miscast.

edutcher said...

The reviews for the movie are universally bad.

Shanna said...

I learned it from either the words to Loch Lomond

On the bonnie bonnie banks of loch lomond...I got to visit loch lomond when I was in scotland. It was gorgeous!

I hate 3d movies. I was hoping this would be good, though, just because if you are going to redo something (even from a different perspective) you should be able to improve. But then, how are you going to improve on the Judy Garland version? Impossible.

Baron Zemo said...

It is almost impossible to make a sequel to a classic. No less sixty years later.

Imagine if they wanted to make a sequel to "Casablanca" or "Citzen Kane" or "Red River" or "Gone with the Wind."

The only way a sequel can work is if the same creative team and actors do it just a few years later. Like "Godfather 2" which was actually better than the first one.

Baron Zemo said...

The way to do it is to reimagine it.

They already did that with the "Wizard of OZ."

It was called "Wicked."

Baron Zemo said...

Plus they miscast the "Wizard."

They needed to use a black guy.

Fernandinande said...

Baron Zemo said...

Why not Samuel L Jackson.

"Where are my motherfuckin' flying monkees!"

Baron Zemo said...

The already made a pretty good reimagining of the OZ stories in a 2007 TV series called "Tin Man" starring Zooey Deschanel as Dorothy.

It was very good.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

It could be said that Barack Obama is a revolutionary forbearer. Does that sound less racist than lazy?

Revenant said...

Kurt Loder gave the film an very positive review at Reason Magazine's blog.

Revenant said...

I saw Franco on Conan last night and thought "no one will know who he is in 10 years'.

How dare you, sir. He'll always be Daniel from "Freaks and Geeks" to me. :)

EMD said...

It is almost impossible to make a sequel to a classic. No less sixty years later.

It's a prequel based on the Baum book prequel.

Yeah, it's destined to fail.

Chip Ahoy said...

In the second of three 4th grade sites, a Quonset hut, at the near back of the class, and new to the class, to the whole place, that looked much like a prison, and seemed altogether ersatz, chain link fence, razor wire, gates, the whole bit, the teacher began reading from a Frank Baum book. Which was really stupid compared to what else was going on. It was like reversion. Whereas the other portions of the class were like skipping ahead compared to the previous school. I was expected to spell the word "citizenship." S rather long for a 4th grader, I thought. "But look, it's really two easy words." A helpful classmate chirped.

The teacher reading out loud, how odd, compelled me to read all the others Frank Baum books. And the whole time I was thinking, man, this guy really lets his imagination just go. I sensed he didn't know himself where he intended to end up, he just kept adding things as he went along and each thing he added was fantastic to me. I regarded him as a great writer, and he partially saved my sanity at a very strange and mean place.

And those kids were little bastards too. They were playing dodge ball with this weird red ball that stings like shit when they hit you with it. Pow, right on the ear. I'll never forget being targeted like that ping, ping, ping all over the place.

Revenant said...

It is almost impossible to make a sequel to a classic. No less sixty years later.

I'm one of those rare people who doesn't particularly care for the original and thinks the 1980s sequel was better.

Sure, I get how it was groundbreaking, and it has catchy music. But it was a so-so adaptation of the original book, and added in that dippy "it was all a dream" ending.

RonF said...

"... continuing through a lame story line that’s merely a warmed-over version of the 1939 movie adaptation,"

I thought the 1939 movie was an adaptation of L. Frank Baum's "Wizard of Oz". Was this movie supposed to be a remake of that? Is the author of this review aware that there were numerous other books written about Oz by L. Frank Baum?

lemondog said...

It is almost impossible to make a sequel to a classic.

It is a prequel.

20th Century madeup word

rcommal said...

Chip Ahoy:

I still have my set of original, Frank L. Baum, Oz books (14, not 12, my earlier comment notwithstanding) that I received in early elementary school, when I was mostly bored out of my mind. I found them a saving grace, too--although I was a great natural speller, a skill that I now think is overrated, given how times have changed. I'd much rather be able to make intricate, original pop-up cards, for example; no spell-checker can do that.

: )

AJ Lynch said...

Sorry Rev - did not see that movie either. Should I add to me Netflix queue?

Revenant said...

The reviews for the movie are universally bad.

Rotten Tomatoes counts 90 positive reviews to 61 negative.

ricpic said...

Clicking your ruby red slippers three times will get you out of any recess nastiness.

Revenant said...

Sorry Rev - did not see that movie either. Should I add to me Netflix queue?

Return to Oz? It is one of those films with a cult following but which most people didn't like. I liked it. Give it a shot, but if you dislike it you're not alone. :)

It is is an original story based heavily on the third book, but with some characters from the second.

rcommal said...

I had a pair of red patent leather shoes in elementary school that I absolutely loved. The day they cracked was the day I dug my little heels in and punched a bully back.

True story.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...comes from "beer," which means "one who is or exists."

I drink therefore I am.

AJ Lynch said...

Rev- no I was referring to Freaks & Geeks. It sounds like a Weekend at Bernie's type movie.

David said...

Too bad. It was a great idea for a film, especially if they were willing to play with expectations. Sounds like they screwed up a great opportunity.

Alex said...

3D graphics nerds get to orgasm over films like this while the rest of use real film lovers shake our heads.

Revenant said...

Rev- no I was referring to Freaks & Geeks. It sounds like a Weekend at Bernie's type movie.

Oh! No, it wasn't a movie, it was a short-lived TV series. Franco, Jason Siegel, and Seth Rogen got their start on it, among others. Produced by Judd Apatow before he started making bromantic comedies.

It was a high school drama (with comedic elements) set in 1980 Michigan, following a group of freshman nerds and a second group of stoner/burnout juniors. Critically praised but never found an audience, the usual. :)

Revenant said...

But yes, you can get Freaks and Geeks on Netflix -- that's how I first saw it.

Baron Zemo said...

I think a straight remake of "The Wizard of OZ" would have been better.

I suggest Jennifer Lawrence as Dorothy.

Russell Crowe as the Tin Man.

Roberty Downey Jr as the Scarecrow.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the cowardly lion.

Martin Lawrence and Jamie Foxx as flying monkees.

Baron Zemo said...

Wait that would be racist.

Baron Zemo said...

Nevermind.

David said...

Baron Zemo said...
"Why not Samuel L Jackson."

Christina Hendricks as the Good Witch.

Angelina Jolie as Bad Witch.

Lady Gaga as Alice.

David Bowie as Scarecrow.

Newt Gingrich, Tin Man.

Andy and Mickey Rooney, Munchkins.

United States Senate as the flying monkeys.

wyo sis said...

I just got The Wonderful Wizard of OZ commemorative pop-up book by Robert Sabuda.
It's beautiful. I love pop-ups. The tornado doesn't whirl as well as I thought it would. Expectations vs reality. The art work in the style of W. W. Denslow is a really smart idea. It even has little green glasses to wear while reading the Emerald City page.
I have no idea how they mass produce these little gems for 20 dollars, but they certainly don't disappoint.

Baron Zemo said...

How about an all black Wizard.

Beyonce as Dorothy.

Will Smith as the Scarecrow.

The Rock as the Tin Man.

Ruben Studdard as the Cowardly Lion.

John McCain and Lindsey Graham as flying monkees.

Baron Zemo said...

Of course we all know who should play the wicked witch!Just sayn'

lemondog said...

How about an all black Wizard.

The Wiz

Nonapod said...

James Franco is sort of like Keanu Reeves for a new generation. Both were great in roles as comedic stoners. Both have aspired to be serious dramatic actors but have had mixed success in more ambitious roles. Both have been miscast (woefully or otherwise) at various times. Both typically play characters who are 5 to 10 years younger than themselves.

Baron Zemo said...

How about an all black Wizard that is actually good.

With the classic songs.

Shanna said...

I've two FB friends who saw Oz and had a stronger reaction: Their's was Worst Movie Seen.

I'm guessing they missed the last Twilight offering. That was so, so bad.

Nomennovum said...

When will we be done with 3D movies? They are really annoying. They try too hard and become stilted as a result, and, as a viewer, I need to try too hard to watch the 3D effects. The problem with the Hobbit wasn't the 48fps, it was the stupid-ass 3D effects.

Why doesn't Bloomberg pass a law on this or something??? I mean, this is a matter of taste (like sodas, fatty foods, and sex partners), so there oughtta be a law.

Nonapod said...

If they were to remake The Wiz they'd need to get that Donald Glover kid from Community to play the scarecrow and Chi McBride to play the cowardly lion.

Nomennovum said...

"With the classic songs.

You mean, like, Stairway to Heaven?

EMD said...

James Franco is sort of like Keanu Reeves for a new generation. Both were great in roles as comedic stoners. Both have aspired to be serious dramatic actors but have had mixed success in more ambitious roles. Both have been miscast (woefully or otherwise) at various times. Both typically play characters who are 5 to 10 years younger than themselves.

Franco is talented, and not a complete dummy.

But he is best suited for particular types of roles.

This is not one of them.

EMD said...

How about an all black Wizard.

Ozzie Smith?

EMD said...

Lady Gaga as Alice.

Yeah, Dorothy always was kind of a c**t.

Darrell said...

Somewhat related... James Franco at the start of this year's Daytona 500: "Drivers, and Danica, start your engines!

Well, since everyone was expecting to hear "Gentlemen, start your engines!" the change-up was supposed to be a funny twist. The "Drivers" was misdirection--getting everyone to think that WAS the modernization.

Rusty said...

My step father, god bless him, could recite on command any RB doggerel you could name. In the vernacular.
In his cups. Which usually started on friday afternoon and last until late Sunday. He could also sing in his deep bass voice any football fight song of just about any college you could name that had a football team.

Astro said...

Baron Zemo said... They already made a pretty good re-imagining of the OZ stories in a 2007 TV series called "Tin Man" starring Zooey Deschanel as Dorothy. It was very good.

Yes, I agree. It was a surprisingly well done twist on the OZ adventures; quite a bit grittier and with a clever connection to the original story line. I thought Deschanel's acting was a bit soft, though. But I'd watch her in anything (except that dumb sitcom).

campy said...

He could also sing in his deep bass voice any football fight song of just about any college you could name that had a football team.

Did he know "For Boston"?

Petunia said...

I saw it in IMAX 3-D today. I enjoyed it. Someone else might have been better than Franco, but overall, I thought it was worth seeing.

Rusty said...

campy said...
He could also sing in his deep bass voice any football fight song of just about any college you could name that had a football team.

Did he know "For Boston"?

Probably. He lived in Mass. For some time.
He grew up under conditions that would have made Dickens cringe. He grew up in Northumbria.

William said...

Female grammarians are called strunks by sexists. When, at long last, will be past this......They can't make an Oz movie so bad that I won't at least rent it. This movie will probably make money. The people who hate it will probably have a better time hating than the people who like it.....The review I read said that Robert Downey was originally cast for the Oz role. Better choice.

John said...

I watch a lot of movies (Netflix while on my stationary bike, mainly) but seldom get to the theater.

By odd coincidence, today my son and I picked up his daughter and her girlfriend (both 3rd grade) and took them to this movie.

Not the type of movie I would ever see on my own and I can understand some of the objections.

Overall, though, I enjoyed it. My granddaughter (the target audience) loved it.

John Henry

Craig said...

Read close to thirty different Oz books before trading Oz in for Tarzan in the 4th grade. Born in Kansas and raised there until age seven. Twisters were a bug and a feature of life in Kansas and in the 1950s the Wizard of Oz was shown once a year on television, usually around Easter at the beginning of tornado season. The Wicked Witch of the East was absolutely terrifying when I was four, but by age six or seven I knew I would survive seeing the movie again.

Haven't seen Oz the Great and Powerful yet, but I think Franco is a great choice for the Wizard. He's where he is in Hollywood because he played James Dean better than James Dean in a biopic and was great in the Spiderman franchise which raked in more than a billion at the gate. The Wizard of Oz books were about the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy Gale from Kansas was just one of a vast host of characters Baum created for the series. It's unfortunate for L. Frank Baum's legacy that Hollywood allowed Judy Garland to turn The Wizard of Oz into Dorothy Gale, Wicked Witch Slayer from Kansas.

Jeff Teal said...

James Franco IMHO is another of the stoned adolescents who other adolescents are supposed to think have talent.Anyone who is not stoned sees through their vapid expressions.

Rusty said...

say "prestidigitation" three times as fast as you can.