The Wicked movie has been happening for so long—so very, very long—that I’m still finding it hard to believe it really exists, and will really arrive on screens this November. But it really will, and we really have a trailer, finally, and it’s … I cannot put it any better than the writer Meg Elison, who said, “It looks so weird like everything might secretly be cake?”
Is everything cake? Could that explain the ways in which it looks, visually, distressingly, of a piece with Oz the Great and Powerful? What in the magical land of Oz is going on here? As the song says, something has changed within me … something is not the same. And that something is that I am less excited about this movie than I hoped to be.
Wicked, for the uninitiated (if those still exist), is a movie based on a blockbuster musical that is based on a novel. Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, which goes places in Oz that L. Frank Baum never dreamed of, is a devastating and beautiful tale. The musical, as musicals do, transformed it into a story with a happy ending. The musical also provided two incredible, star-making roles in Elphaba and Glinda, who both get unforgettable songs—chief among them Elphie’s “Defying Gravity,” which seems as if it will mark the end of Wicked Part One, and which is only briefly nodded to here.
Wicked, the movie version of the musical, stars Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, and Ariana Grande as Glinda, who audiences know as the good witch from The Wizard of Oz. (The roles were originated by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth.) Erivo is going to kill it. Grande, I’m a little less sure about; she seems wan and mild in this trailer, and Glinda absolutely has to bubble. She has to charm. She has to make you believe her when she sings a song about how she’s going to transform a weirdo outcast into somebody popular.
Here’s the synopsis:
The movie also stars a delightfully intense Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, Bridgerton’s Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero; Ethan Slater as the Munchkin Boq; Marissa Bode as Elphie’s sister, Nessarose; and Jeff Goldbum as the Wizard. Bowen Yang appears as Pfannee and Bronwyn James as ShenShen, and the film apparently includes a new character, Miss Coddle, played be Keala Settle (The Greatest Showman).
The film comes from the same writing team as the musical—book writer Winnie Holzman and composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (who has written two new songs for Part Two)—and is directed by Jon M. Chu (In the Heights).
Part One is in theaters November 27th.