Christopher Guest’s Oscar skit pokes fun at ‘The Wizard of Oz’

Will Perkins
Wide Screen

More flying monkeys! One of the highlights from an otherwise sedate Oscar telecast was a sketch featuring actor-director Christopher Guest ("Best in Show") and his stable of veteran comedians.

The hilarious bit saw the ensemble taking part in a focus group session (led by Bob Balaban) for the original "The Wizard of Oz." Guest, Fred Willard, Jennifer Coolidge and Canadians Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara (both vets of "SCTV") star as the utterly clueless test audience for the film, giving Balaban's studio man nothing but terrible advice on how to improve the 1939 classic. Watch Guest's Oscar skit below:

The "affable farm hands" to which Levy's dour character refers actually appeared throughout the film as the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion. Willard is the only member of the focus group with the right idea, though. Clearly any movie would be vastly improved by the presence of more flying monkeys.

The Academy Awards sketch is not the first time that Guest and company have poked fun at the film industry. His last film, 2006's "For Your Consideration" (which also featured O'Hara, Levy and others), lampooned Hollywood's obsession with award shows and award-worthy acting performances. Despite being centered on a nearly-75-year-old movie, last night's skit was a welcome distraction from host Billy Crystal's endless jokes about texting and other newfangled technology that supposedly confounds anyone over the age of 50.

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