Why did they go with a title that makes you feel this should be an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie? It sounds more like a threat than a promise.
Based on a children’s novel written by Oz creator L. Frank Baum’s great-grandson, Roger, Lea Michele provides the voice of Dorothy in this animated sequel daring to go where no one should have gone before. In what is supposed to be the day after she has returned from Oz (but with characteristics that make it look more like the 1950’s or later), our young heroine is shocked to see her entire home town has been upended by the tornado, especially her family’s home and farm.
A strange and shifty appraiser (Martin Short) has shown up, and he is declaring just about every home in town to be condemned due to tornado damage, but Dorothy isn’t willing to accept it.
Of course, at the same time, Oz has changed dramatically (one day in our time is years and years in Oz time). A strange and shifty jester (also Martin Short) has obtained a magic scepter, which he is using to imprison those who try to stop him by turning them into marionettes. The Lion (James Belushi), The Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd) and The Tin Man (Kelsey Grammar) are among the last members of the resistance, so they have sent a message to Dorothy hoping she can return to Oz and save the day, again.
If there are other descendants of L. Frank Baum, they should all band together and sue Roger. He might not be able to show his face at Thanksgiving dinner this year, unless he arrives carrying some very large checks for each member of the family.
Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is a horrible rip off of the original Wizard Of Oz. Maybe kids won’t notice, but many of the adults around me fell into two categories – those who were aghast at what was on the screen and those who fell asleep (I envy the guy who got a few more minutes of precious sleep on a Saturday morning).
Maybe they were limited by the original children’s novel or maybe they had too many restrictions placed upon them by the rest of the creative and production team, but writers Adam Balsam and Randi Barnes deliver a painful script.
Scarecrow can’t stop talking about how he now has a brain.
Lion can’t stop talking about how he now has courage.
Tin Man can’t stop talking about how he now has a heart.
All of this is repeated so many times, the audience is almost challenged to stand up and yell back at the screen about how these characters need to shut up because we got the point already.
Then, we are subject to the attack of the puns. In the land of candy, the main hero is Marshal Mallow. The judge is Judge Jawbreaker. We have a jury of your Peeps. I actually heard an audible groan from a viewer several rows behind me after one of those.
Worst of all, Balsam, Barnes and directors Will Finn and Dan St. Pierre follow a very familiar structure as Dorothy makes new friends along her path back to Emerald City, but every one of these new characters falls far short of being as awesome as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion. This is the B-team in every way, shape and form with forced goofiness for some that will only appeal to the youngest of kids.
Seeing the chance to make some extra money on soundtrack sales and kill some time, we are presented several songs. Trust me when I tell you we do not have a Let It Go anywhere in the bunch.
Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is rated PG because we get some weird stuff like making a boat out of a talking tree, which logistically scares me (wouldn’t the talking tree start screaming when they hollow it out?), and one major character who dies, which could be a bit disconcerting for kids
In the end, the entire enterprise makes me wonder why someone wanted to do this for anything but the money.
Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is rated PG for some scary images and mild peril.