The 3D-animated movie, “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” hits theaters this week, with a resounding thud. A look at the movie trailers and stills should have been a clue that this one ought to have gone straight-to-video, but the real tip-off was the writer credit. The screenplay is based on a book by Roger Stanton Baum. Wait, what? It turns out Roger Stanton Baum – whose bio refers to him as a former banker and stockbroker – is the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, the original author of the “Oz” books. Apparently, the gene pool has been watered down considerably.
The story takes place a day after Dorothy (Glee’s Lea Michele) has returned to Kansas. Since time travels much faster in Oz, much has happened there since Dorothy departed. Her old friends the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), the Lion (Jim Belushi), the Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) and Glinda (Bernadette Peters) need saving from the Jester – an extremely icky character who is apparently the long lost brother of the Wicked Witch of the East, annoyingly voiced by Martin Short. The message goes out to Dorothy to come and restore order and happiness to the Emerald City. The poor kid doesn’t even have a day to rest in Kansas, before she’s sucked up into some kind of rainbow teleporting contraption built by the Scarecrow.
In an earlier time, the film’s animation might have been acceptable, but for an audience accustomed to stunningly beautiful artwork from Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Blue Sky Studios and others, it just doesn’t make the grade. And, although the movie is billed as a musical, the tunes from singer/songwriter Bryan Adams are utterly forgettable.
Even the stellar voice cast, which also includes Oliver Platt, Hugh Dancy, Megan Hilty and Patrick Stewart, can’t save the day. Animation voice-overs are generally recorded several years before a film is released, so it’s pretty safe to say that the voice actors didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.
There is just no box office gold at the end of this rainbow.
The Bottom Line: Talk the grandkids out of dragging you to this one, and treat them to a DVD matinee of the 1939 classic, “The Wizard of Oz”. A new, remastered DVD collection including a 3-D Blu-ray is now available, and will make a great addition to your home entertainment library.
PG, for some scary images and mild peril. 1 hr. 28 min.