|THE WIZARD OF SPEED AND TIME
|Copyright 1988 Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 24 June 2001
- Mike Jittlov - The Wizard himself! Every other thing this maniac does defies some law of the universe. You'll understand my description after seeing him grin mischievously at the camera as he dashes down the road.
- Cindy - Girl who falls in love with Mike and his dedicated spirit. How a starving actress in Hollywood still manages to be innocently naive is beyond me, but she misses every sexual connotation imaginable, including Mike describing his method of special effects. Maybe I'm just a dirty young man.
- Brian - He handles finances for all of the Wizard's endeavors and finds himself needing to work a little magic. Worries about the trouble his madman friend gets into.
- Mom - To Mike that is, often under siege by renegade toys.
- Straeker - Director and the only person who can recognize true talent. Too bad that he has a gambling problem.
- The Cops - One of them is Philip Michael Thomas! In the end they manage to recover their squad car and find love in each other's arms. The latter is a small problem since she is married.
- McTavish - Never hire an obsessive-compulsive Irish man as your accountant.
- Two Thugs - Bumbling crooks who are dressed like the Keystone Cops and want to kidnap Mike. One appears to be very Hispanic, the other very Canadian. Just another reason to worry about our northern and southern borders.
- Harvey - Evil film producer that was so lampooned I was waiting for Van Helsing to burst in and hammer a stake through his heart.
|What if your whole life was a special effect? I don't mean fake, I mean things happening around you which would dumbfound the casual observer. Anger causing light to flash across your eyes, objects bounding into the air at the beckoning of a finger, and any number of other unexpected occurrences. Such is the life of Mike Jittlov.
People familiar with the original "Wizard of Speed and Time" short know to expect energy. Insane and completely unpredictable energy; the sort of thing that makes women with short hair kicking and punching seem lazy in comparison. That short is probably the most fun you can pack into five minutes without succumbing to the White Witch and her delicious Turkish Delight. Plus, unlike the eldritch confection, it is unlikely to result in the slaying of lions or breaking of stone tables. You can see some excerpts from the short (and others) contained in this feature film, but the ending is actually a remake.
So what is the movie about? It's the ordeals suffered by Jittlov during his quest to break into film. We get the idea that a hateful bureaucracy has grown up around America's entertainment industry. Obviously the main character, also the writer and director, has had unpleasant experiences with the guild masters. At times the message gets a little on the preachy side, like people constantly wanting to see union credentials.
Mike finally finds a partially open door when Straeker sees his work. The two executives are putting together a special about effects and one of the Wizard's energetic pieces would be perfect. That's what the good suit thinks anyway. Harry is another issue, he despises anyone without the proper pedigree and only agrees when a gentleman's wager is tabled on the outcome by Straeker. With enough at stake to purchase a nice car (for us working class people) the evil producer's goal shifts from making an enjoyable presentation to ruining Jittlov's efforts.
Creating anything costs money and, having been denied an advance funding account, the two friends hold a garage sale to raise funds for the short. Even the wondrous bicycle that Mike built is sold off. Sorry to see that piece of machinery go; not only did it have the best ball bearings ever made, it had a great anti-theft system. Crooks grabbing the handlebars would find themselves the generous recipients of paralyzing electric current. No amps, but enough volts to make you do the funky chicken.
The friends hurdle obstacle after obstacle and are joined by the irrepressible Cindy after Mike meets her jogging. I mean that she was the one jogging; he was sitting on a bench acting himself, which is to say eccentric. Harvey drops by during the process and is greatly impressed by the work completed, but freaks out after seeing the studio. All those dancing tripods and shining film cans are being animated in the Wizard's garage! It causes a major spectacle when the toys, sensing evil, attack the fleeing jerk.
One point comes to mind here: who cares how something is made so long as the result is good? Beyond "necessary evils" of course. Grinding up kittens to use in your film stock is reprehensible, even if the result is fantastic. Not that "Citizen Kane" contains any kitty meal... ...though there is that one scene with the mysterious whisker shaped defect. No, the film is honestly made - even if the electricity used falls into a gray area. Is it a bad thing when the city runs power lines under your lawn and attaching alligator clips to the flowers will power a studio full of lights?
Harvey becomes desperate to stop "The Wizard of Speed and Time" from being completed; so much that he pays a pair of inept thugs to kidnap the man. They up the ante after stealing a police car, but didn't count on it being a K-9 unit. Okay, two goofballs with a very PO'd German shepherd in the back seat. They appease the working dog with prodigious amounts of fast food burritos. That's a mistake, because the pooch is twice as disagreeable upon waking from its post-digestive holocaust slumber. Needless to say, don't feed stuff like that to a dog with extensive training in biting the heck out of people.
Who can stop that Wizard of Speed and Time? Certainly not a producer and his minions; everything is going to be just fine. The good guy will win the girl and bad people get their just desserts. And it all happens so fast!
Little things make this movie fun, like seeing the table where so many of the effects were created and even Jittlov working on them. The little cleaning robot that looks like a backhoe or something (heck, it's made of Lego, who knows what it is) was a nice touch. I want one.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- The Time Lords have two major exports: police boxes and camera shops.
- The sign for Hollywood used to be a neon one.
- Running over a herd (pack, flock, who knows?) of skunks is not advised.
- "Tron" was filmed inside a piece of woman's jewelry.
- Sleeping bags can be used in sound production and editing.
- Poltergeists are a constant problem for the IRS.
- Blondes run off of alternating current.
- If at first you don't succeed then become an arsonist.
- When running at Mach Five the worst thing to encounter is a banana peel.
- 12 mins - Here come the evils caused by film unions.
- 17 mins - Room 666? Must be the "Dr. Black Magic Show."
- 43 mins - Brian, in case you have not noticed, reality is a tenuous thing around your friend.
- 45 mins - I would be really afraid of eating a pizza with octopus as a topping.
- 67 mins - That kid looks just like Bill Gates. Sounds and acts like him too.
- 68 mins - How is a kite being hung up on the TV antenna affecting his phone?
- 71 mins - Oddjob no!
- 83 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A CIGAR!
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Harvey: "Don't bring a whole reel of effects in here just 'cause you want a job as an actor!" |
Straeker: "Harvey, he did the effects! He probably made did everything himself."
Mike: "I'm a film maker; I make films."
||Harvey: "You can't make features; you can't even shake hands. You gotta crawl before you can leap!" |
Straeker: "Harvey, you're the only one who can leap from a crawl."
||Belair: "Look, you work with me, I expect a pro. You don't even shake hands. You outta see a shrink!" |
Mike: "Mrs. Belair, if you feel compelled to grab part of my body and shake it, before you can even be friendly, you've got far worse problems than you think I have."
||Cindy: "How do you get it all moving around?" |
Mike: "Well, aside from Mr. Bookman's method, we use stop motion. For every second of movie film there are twenty-four pictures and we're making each of those pictures one at a time."
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|This is actually the latter part of the short where the Wizard demonstrates his mastery of time (also contained in the feature reviewed here). What do marching tripods have to do with Chronos? I haven't the slightest clue, but it's cool.
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