Today is a special day for me worth celebrating. It marks the 10th anniversary of the first article I ever published as the Deja Reviewer, and this is the 600th article I have published on this website. Back on June 16, 2011, I debuted an article entitled “Movie Matchups: Iron Man vs. RoboCop.” But that wasn’t the first movie matchup I had written. In fact, it was the second. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find the first because it can no longer be found via a simple Internet search.
You see, back in February 2010, the day after my first child was born, I was let go from my job along with half the company, and I was forced to try many creative ways to find a job fast. One thing I decided to do was to publish a bunch of articles online wherever I could to see if I could get some attention or notoriety.
A little website called Suite101 seemed like a good option, so I went ahead and published more than a dozen articles on there in just a few weeks. I wrote about all sorts of topics, including proper grammar, a foolproof method for getting rid of hiccups, and various film reviews. I can see now that those articles were my first baby steps into becoming the Deja Reviewer, especially the one entitled “Movie Match-up: Pixar’s Up vs. The Wizard of Oz.”
I credit it as the first Deja Reviewer article before I even came up with that name or the idea for this website. Unfortunately, when I went to look for it, I couldn’t find it at all. The Suite101 website is now devoted exclusively to mattresses, and they have deleted all of the old articles that used to be published on it.
Thankfully, I always save my work. So I was able to pinpoint exactly when I finished writing that article, and I searched for it using the Wayback Machine on the right date to find what I was looking for. You can click this link to confirm that I’m telling the truth about all of this: https://web.archive.org/web/20100425051428/http://hollywood-animated-films.suite101.com/article.cfm/movie-match-up-pixars-up-vs-the-wizard-of-oz
For your reading pleasure (and to ensure this important piece of literary history remains on the Internet), I will now repost my long-lost first Deja Reviewer article here. It’s not as polished as my work would later become, but that makes it all the more interesting to read and compare. Enjoy!
Movie Match-up: Pixar’s Up vs. The Wizard of Oz
Up, Pixar’s 2009 blockbuster film, is actually a clever reworking of the classic film, The Wizard of Oz. The characters in both movies have many similarities, the plots are nearly identical, and both have a dream-like quality about them.
Up begins in a realistic style, depicting the life of two people, Mr. and Mrs. Fredricksen. After his wife dies, Mr. Fredricksen faces a crisis in which he is going to be taken from his home. His solution is to fly away in his home to a mysterious place called Paradise Falls in South America where he has an adventure. He winds up saving a mysterious bird and killing the villain. He then returns to the real world a wiser man.
The Wizard of Oz begins in a realistic manner, as well. Dorothy faces a crisis when her dog, Toto, is going to be taken from her. Her solution is to run away, but then she returns to her home just in time to have it swept away in a tornado. She flies to a magical world called Oz where she has an adventure. Dorothy kills the Wicked Witch of the West and then returns home more appreciative of what she has.
One of Up’s main characters is Russell, an overeager Wilderness Explorer. Russell is basically a combination of Dorothy and Toto. He’s loyal, helpful, and he only wants to help other people reach their goals while trying to obtain a small reward of his own, a merit badge.
The strange bird that Russell calls Kevin is similar to Dorothy and Toto, as well. The main characters are dedicated to helping Kevin at the end, much like how the main characters in The Wizard of Oz fight a desperate battle to save Dorothy and Toto.
Mr. Fredricksen’s Changing Roles
Mr. Fredricksen is like the Tin Man. He has no heart and he does his best to ignore other people’s problems, even as he becomes embroiled in them. He is the exact opposite of Russell, and their disagreements provide plenty of comic relief. This is similar to how the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man were polar opposites in The Wizard of Oz.
Mr. Fredricksen changes through the course of the movie, finally gaining a heart as he reads through his departed wife’s scrapbook of happy memories with him. At that point, he no longer acts like the Tin Man, but more like Russell, willing to put himself in harm’s way to help his friends.
At the end, Mr. Fredricksen acts like the Wizard of Oz himself by granting Russell’s wish. Instead of giving Russell a heart, a brain, courage, or even a merit badge symbolizing any of those things, Mr. Fredricksen gives him a bottle cap that his wife had given him when they were children playing make-believe.
Dug, the Cowardly Scarecrow
Dug is a comic-relief character who acts like a combination of the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow. He has little brains, but he has a big heart. He runs to the rescue of his master and faithfully stays with him, even when Russell runs away. He finally receives the gift of courage when he symbolically thrusts his weaknesses onto the Alpha dog with the cone of shame.
Charles Muntz, the Wicked Wizard of Oz
Charles Muntz starts as a kind-of Wizard of Oz character who, once he emerges from the shadows, becomes a kindly old man. However, he soon takes on the persona of the Wicked Witch of the West in his pursuit of Kevin/Dorothy. He even has his own army of talking dogs, which are almost as bizarre as the Witch’s flying monkeys.
A Proper Conclusion
2021 Deja Reviewer here again to finish out this article. It’s strange that I didn’t include a proper conclusion to my article years ago. I suppose I have the opportunity to correct that oversight by doing so now. I think the makers of Up were well aware of the comparisons that could be drawn between their film and The Wizard of Oz. The image of the house spinning in the wind through a giant storm certainly conjures up memories of The Wizard of Oz. And many of the twists and turns of the plot and characters could be seen as paying homage to a classic.
I hope you’ve enjoyed taking this trip down memory lane with me. I never reused this article idea on my own website because I didn’t think it would be appropriate to draw from what I had already published elsewhere. The only reason I decided to put it here is because it can’t be easily found elsewhere. But now you can see the humble origin of the Deja Reviewer. And you can bet the best is yet to come.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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