Wizard People

Harry Potter has a bad case of wizard angst in “Order of the Phoenix.” The 5th movie in the Harry Potter series arrives in theatres at Midnight — not a bad time considering this edition is definitely not for the little ones. In fact the subtitle of this one could be “Harry Potter gets P.O’d.” Adults are idiots, teens are cruel, and everybody’s having a bad hair day. A bold step for the series as a whole, but not exactly the feel good movie of the summer.

I’m not going to try to sell you on the J.K. Rowling books or the movie, I’m here to do a little fanboy rave on Brad Neely’s alternate take on the Potter universe call “Wizard People.” It’s a little hard to explain to the uninitiated, but it’s basically an “audio book” that retells the first Potter story (“Sorcerer’s Stone”) in an hilarious, but ultimately complimentary way. Neely’s over-the-top voice acting and wild flights of literary fancy are side-splittingly funny. You purchase the the CDs online (they’re easy to find, but I’m not going to give you a quick link on this one — you’re on your own!) — you then sync-up the audio while watching the “Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone” movie on TV.

It’s all such a hoot when it comes together. Neely’s narration feels like a warped edition of “A Prairie Home Companion.” It’s a lot like “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” too, but rather than just witty asides you get a whole new narrative.

So what’s so funny? Well, even Neely’s take on the character names are delightfully bent. Professor McGonagall is Professor Hardcastle McCormick. Dudley Dursley is Roast-Beefy O’Weefy. Voldemort is Val-mart. Ron Weasley is Ronnie the Bear. Hermione Granger is the Wretched Harmony. Hagrid is Hagar the Horrible. Draco Malfoy is Mouthoil. Snape becomes a woman named Snake! It goes on and on. Harry, you might be relieved to know is still Harry.

There’s a pretty good helping of salty language involved, so I’d put the appropriate age level at 15-plus — (if the f-bomb bothers you, 17-plus). Neely is so creative that I hope he can start producing original material that’s equally good. You can give “Wizard People” a pretty good test drive on YouTube if you want to check it out. It’s broken up, but you’ll get the idea.

Let me know what you think, and if you really like it — spread the word.

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