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Written by Adam Balsam and Randi Barnes
Directed by Dan St. Pierre and Will Finn
Voices by Lea Michele, Martin Short, Megan Hilty and Hugh Dancy

Dorothy: This doesn’t look like the Oz I remember. 

In theory, the animated, 3D musical, LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN should be magical. Its screenplay is based on a story penned by Roger S. Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum (the writer of THE WIZARD OF OZ). Its plot is moved along by a collection of original songs written by a songwriting team that includes Canadian icon, Bryan Adams. These songs are sung by an awe-inspiring aggregation of seasoned Broadway and stage legends including Megan Hilty (of ‘Wicked’ fame, coincidentally enough), Martin Short, Lea Michele, and Patrick Stewart. In practice, however, the movie is a mess. With dull animation, a tonally inconsistent plot and forgettable songs, this uninspired return to Oz lacks brains and heart. 

The story picks up the morning after Dorothy returns home from Oz. Although it may have been one short day in Kansas, in Oz, much time has elapsed. Enough time for the Wicked Witch of the West’s brother, the Jester (Short), to have turned her broomstick into a shamanistic sceptre that can perform his maniacal bidding, including turning Glinda (Peters) into a controlled marionette. The Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer), and Lion (Jim Belushi) are desperate for assistance and summon Dorothy (Michele) using a rainbow travelling machine. Due to an unforeseen dastardly interruption by the leftover flying monkeys, the machine drops Dorothy off far from the Jester’s gothic castle, and thus begins her journey to rescue her friends from their impending doom. Of course, LEGENDS OF OZ being a knock-off of the original tale, she picks up friends in need of life lessons along the way, including the fragile China Princess (Hilty), the chivalrous Marshall Mallow (Hugh Dancy), cowardly owl Wiser (Oliver Platt), and the kindly tree-cum-boat Tugg (Stewart). Together, they must unite to stop the evil Jester from destroying Oz and its inhabitants. 

Though titled ‘Legends of Oz’, there is very little evidence here of why Dorothy et al., and the merry old land of Oz were legendary to begin with. The cherished characters of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion are diminished here to a bickering trio, which hardly befits the unique, vibrant personalities that they once were, or the multi-talented comedic luminaries voicing them. Dorothy, too, has traded in her ruby slippers for cowboy boots and her spunky perseverance for a charmless, tiresome persona. Short does his utmost to bring his usual effervescent energy to this movie, and Dancy and Hilty at one point share a touching duet, but everyone else seems to be lethargically going through the motions. It’s incomprehensible why this obvious cash grab didn’t just go straight to video. Spare yourself this forgettable trip down the yellow brick road.

1.5 sheep

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