The violence in animation maverick Ralph Bakshi’s 1977 apocalyptic fantasy Wizards could be interpreted as the director’s excuse to get even with TerryToons for all the cute, cuddly creatures he was obliged to draw while under contract with the cartoon studio. Not surprisingly, audiences stayed home in droves. Even today, the sight of Muppetesque puppets smoking and punching a kid in the face is enough to cause franchise loyalists to mourn the contrarily R-rated activities as though a member of their immediate family had died. As one who holds no loyalty either to franchise or leading lady, the connoisseur of filth within me is pleased to report how wonderfully nasty much of the felted proceedings here are to behold. The film’s biggest shortfall is Melissa McCarthy, whose cartoony constitution frequently blends in when contrast is what’s needed. And her habit of repeating what others say as a means to elicit laughter has become more tiresome than a baby-talking Adam Sandler. Brian Henson (as in the late Jim’s son) directs. (2018) — Scott Marks
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