Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is like a Botox commercial set to music

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Featuring the voices of Lea Michele, Dan Aykroyd, and Kelsey Grammer. Rated G.

Over the last few years, the world has been rediscovering The Wizard of Oz canon in any number of ways. The animated Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is the latest attempt to blend elements of an old-school classic with some high-tech touches. As it turns out, it’s a hit-and-miss proposition all the way, with directors Will Finn and Dan St. Pierre serving up a bizarre mix of surrealism, Tin Pan Alley, and Saturday-morning-cartoon clichés.

The plot? Dorothy (pleasantly voiced by Lea Michele) returns to Oz to save the Scarecrow (voiced by Dan Aykroyd), the Lion (voiced by Jim Belushi), and the Tin Man (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) from the clutches of the power-hungry Jester (voiced by Martin Short).

Okay, so nobody’s expecting Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. But even for a feature-length cartoon that stresses the darker side of fantasy, some of the choices seem oddly off-kilter.

Although the pace is commendably brisk, it’s weighed down by a grim—almost gothic—undertone. The evil Jester’s specialty is a horror-movie staple: turning the living into soulless marionettes that do his bidding. Short’s interpretation is especially creepy. He makes it clear that he won’t stop until Dorothy is dead. It’s the sort of foreboding stuff that seeps into the movie’s bouncier moments—so much so that preschoolers may find the movie somewhat disturbing.

The musical score features work by several composers, most notably Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. The songs—safe, syrupy, and instantly forgettable—contain the sort of manipulative emotion you’d expect to see at a Céline Dion concert.

The animation is just as predictable. The human characters have the uniform look of big-eyed blowup dolls. Dorothy seems especially devoid of feeling. Watching her sing is like viewing a Botox commercial set to music.

The nonhuman characters fare significantly better. At their best, they seem lively and cheerful. Especially Toto, who has the most attractive personality in the bunch. Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than a cute dog to save this one.

Comments (5) Add New Comment
Wiser than you
This is an awful review! The movie is great in so many respects. I am 35 yes old have 2 children who both loved it and didn't "forget" the songs. They ve been singing since we left the movie last weekend. The characters are great the story is engaging. A great family movie that you everyone should go out to see
Your analogy to botox commercial is twisted. The music and everything was great. Whole theatre was clapping when I went
Rating: +145
Mark B
After reading several bad reviews, I really didn't want to see this film, but went because my daughter had been asking. I must admit that it was much better than I thought it would be and my daughter absolutely loved it. The first thing she asked in the car ride home was for the DVD for her birthday next week.
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Rating: -1
Martin Dunphy
Happily for your daughter, it will probably be available that soon.
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Rating: -2
Tara J
So many haters. The critics have no idea what they're talking about. Who paid you off? Or are you just jumping on the bandwagon with the other manipulated critics. I have lots of love for the independent film market. This movie was awesome!!! The kids loved it. Pay no attention to these critics. Go see the movie!
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Rating: -1
Luke B
Don't even need to see the movie. All I needed was Toto burping in the trailer to know that this movie was going to be terrible. It's so obviously pandering to little kids, and there's no way it's ever going to come close to the ingenuity, charm, and magical quality of the original movie. I'm sure there's nothing in it that's necessarily BAD for little kids, but the original could apply to kids AND adults.

P.S.: I just watched the whole trailer, to get SOME semblance of what the movie is about. To sum it up, Oz looks like Candyland (which says a lot for the rest of the average-at-best animation), the dialogue is filled with mindless, juvenile humor that I could barely tolerate in a regular kids movie, let alone a Wizard of Oz movie. And it just completely misses what the original movie was all about, and what makes the original my favorite movie of all time.
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Rating: -2
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