The warning signs pile up early on in Will Finn and Dan St. Pierre’s animated Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.
There’s that clunky, passive title; the credit informing us that the movie is not based on any of L. Frank Baum’s 40 public-domain Oz books, but rather a book by Roger Stanton Baum (who?); and the fact that, while it purports to pick up the day after the tornado from The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy (Lea Michele) now lives in modern-day Kansas. (The early 2000s, anyway, judging from the gas prices.)
That’s a baffling decision that isn’t paid off by anything that follows, as the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd) uses a rainbow-based kidnapping machine to pull Dorothy back to an Oz that has been taken over by the Wicked Witch’s brother, the Jester (Martin Short at his shoutiest).
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return fails to make us care about the characters or their journeys, and the animation is shoddy and occasionally creepy — particularly Dorothy’s aunt and uncle, who fall on the wrong side of the Uncanny Valley.
Kids today deserve better than this, and if they’re hankering for a Wizard of Oz sequel that captures the adventure of the original while respecting their intelligence, skip this and show them Walter Murch’s Return to Oz instead.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 7, 2014