Tooncrap #31 - Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return

Somewhere over the rainbow.....there is a better movie.
Clarius Entertainment: 2014

Written by: Raymond Gallant

2014 was a pretty good year for animated movies. Frozen remained cool as ice throughout the year. Everything was awesome with the Lego Movie. Dreamworks Dragon sequel helped keep the struggling company afloat, and Big Hero 6 ended the year strong. But sandwiched in the middle of that was this movie, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return. An out of nowhere CGI adaptation of Roger S. Baum's "Dorothy of Oz".

Of course this is far from the first time we've seen a continuation of the Oz franchise being brought to film. For example we had Return to Oz in the 80's. And nothing says "the warm whimsy of Oz" like decapitated heads, electroshock therapy, and wheelers.

No, not that Wheeler.

Ah, that's the nightmare fuel.

Not to mention the multiple animated adaptations going back to the early days of Rankin-Bass, to the short lived cartoon from 1990, to even a Tom and Jerry version, which is pretty much just the 1939 film verbatim with Tom and Jerry added to the mix. And there's my personal favorite which was the 80's anime, which followed the Oz story
probably the closest. So to say Oz has been done a lot is an understatement. So, why not add another to the mix?

Well, unfortunately for this 70 million dollar endeavor, it got critically panned, and underperformed at the box office, only making a mere 13 million back. I guess nobody wanted to follow that yellow brick road, especially when the CGI looks like something more suited for a direct-to-video release instead of a full theatrical film. But let's see just why people would have preferred being no place but home instead of going to see this movie, and let's review this thing.

After a long opening credits scene complete with slapping the names of everyone on darn near anything sucked up in a tornado, we open our move in the emerald city as we see our old pals The Scarecrow (voiced by Dan Aykroyd), The Tin Man (Voiced by Kelsey Grammer), and the cowardly Lion (voiced by Jim Belushi). Since Oz literally flew the coop on his balloon, they've been the ones taking care of the place, and now things are looking bad. Someone's stolen the Wicked Witch of the West's broom, and the only one who can clearly save the day is Dorothy.

So how do they get Dorothy back? Turns out that Oz just so happens to have a device that works as a portal. Why this thing just now exists, and why it couldn't be used to take her back to Kansas in the first place is beyond me. I'm gonna just assume it was invented after the wizard vanished, otherwise it makes him wanting to be alone with Dorothy in a balloon a whole lot more creepy.

Since time flows faster in Oz, it's been a few years there, but conveniently it's only been a day in Dorothy's time, as she awakens to see the damage caused by the tornado. She learns from her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry that since the place has been completely destroyed they're going to have to move.

I also notice that this version of the story doesn't take place in the more rural early 1900's world of the original tale, and instead feels a bit more modern, which if you're supposed to buy this is a direct sequel to the Wizard of Oz, it kinda feels jarring. Hell, Return to Oz even did that right. Granted they also subjected Dorothy to electroshock therapy, but still...

Before the family can even think of what to do, a pink car arrives, and out steps a man calling himself the appraiser (voiced by Martin Short). A man who despite no clear ties to the government, is going around inspecting the place of the Gales, as they seem to have no problem with him doing so. He condemns the house, and kicks them out. They have 24 hours to get out or they'll be kicked out more so. While Em and Henry pretty much Acquiesce, Dorothy is distraught and promises she's not just going to leave her home.

This leads to our first song, which I guess is supposed to be this film's version of "Over the Rainbow", but while it's far from the worst song ever, it feels underwhelming. We get a montage of Dorothy trying to fix the farm, while also seeing the damage around town, and everyone moving out. After her song, she sees a rainbow, which begins to give chase to her and Toto.

"Taste the Rainbow or else!"

The Rainbow literally grabs hold of the two, and they get transported back to Oz. Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion try to contact her to tell her that she has to make it to the Emerald City ASAP, but they get attacked by flying monkeys. Turns out the flying monkeys aren't screwing around either, as they even managed to capture Glinda and take her to the movie's main villain, the Jester (voiced as well by Martin Short).

The Jester is a villain that is literally hard to take seriously, so much so that he considers it a curse put on him by his sister, the now deceased wicked witch. He's the one causing mayhem in Oz, and has managed to kidnap every person in charge, turning them all into marionettes, mainly thanks to some magic orb and his sister's broomstick. Glinda promises he'll be stopped by Dorothy, and he reacts pretty much with "bitch please. Some little trollop's gonna stop me? I'm the comic relief around here."

To ensure just that, he discovers that she's heading into a place called Candy County, and knowing their justice system, he changes their signs from "don't eat the candy" to "please eat the candy". No child, even Dorothy Gale could turn down free candy. It's the perfect plan. While in Candy County, Dorothy and Toto run into a really fat owl named Wiser, which even the movie makes sure to clearly point out. Not only is he really fat, but also really obnoxious, with a penchant to act like a know it all, and interrupt people.

Despite that annoyance, Dorothy still asks for his companionship on her adventure. And one minute with this character, I despise him. They enter candy county, and they easily gorge while we get a song from the Jester talking about just go ahead and eating the candy. This is an annoying song honestly. But at last it feels like Short's trying.

Since they broke the law, it doesn't take the trio too long to be arrested by our next new character Marshal Mallow. Interestingly, this is a character that never appeared in the original Dorothy of Oz story. They get taken to trial held by the less than honorable Judge Jawbreaker. Meanwhile, the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man try to escape the flying monkeys, but despite their best efforts, they literally get sacked.

The court room scene is puns aplenty as expected. We get the peanut gallery with actual peanuts, our heroes are being judged by a jury of their peeps. Despite their claims of sign swappery, they're still all sentenced to death. Dorothy is confused as to why such a severe sentence, but when you consider the entire town is made of living candy, the whole scene just got a whole lot disturbing, or for vore fans maybe a little erotic?

Marshal Mallow has qualms about executing them, but the judge is in a killin' mood. However, once they learn that this is THE Dorothy Gale who saved Oz, their opinions change, and they call her too good to execute. The justice system in the candy county is made all the more messier as Marshal Mallow tells them that only General Candy Apple can overturn the death sentence, and he's supposedly in the Emerald City. So with that we have our second new companion for Dorothy on her adventure. Can we just have him and get rid of the damn owl.

Their next set piece is a great wall of china... as in literally china. Oh the puns, they slay me. Since they can't move forward without the permission of the china princess, they need an audience with her, and the only way to do that is to find her a suitor, and Dorothy makes Mallow volunteer. Turns out the china kingdom is home of really small porcelain people. So, if they wanted to go the savage route, they could just throw some rocks and stomp on some really really fragile skulls.

We're introduced to the china princess, who is so beautiful that Mallow's heart's melting like it's over a campfire. This leads us to our first song with her kicking off her kicking out suitors left and right mostly for physical appearances, mainly literally cracks on them.

Which leads to this wonderful piece of disturbing imagery.

After that little chunk of nightmare fuel, all that's left is Marshal Mallow, who can't talk, and she openly mocks him for it. But suddenly he wins her over with a song. Said song somehow causes the entire city to crumble. Despite things looking horrible, she still won't let her pass... until yet again they use the "Dorothy card" to get clearance.
But then suddenly the china princess blames her for the earthquake. The princess then mocks Dorothy for not having a royal title, then suddenly realizes "oh right. My town is destroyed. Maybe I could forgo being a self righteous ass hat for a few minutes and try to fix this" and decides to go with her, mainly to stay closer to Marshal Mallow.

Back to the Jester who now has Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion as his latest members to his captive audience. He shows them his collection of puppetized Oz people, and then sings about what we already knew. Sister treated him like crap, and he has been seeking her broomstick ever since. For the big villain song of the movie, it's really underwhelming, like most of the songs in this have been really.

The next obstacle in the way for Dorothy and the gang to get the emerald city is a broken bridge and a river underneath it. With no way to get across, it looks like their adventure is through. But they need to make a boat to get across. However, these trees are sentient, just like everything else they've destroyed. I mean, look at the track record so far. Ate innocent candy people, possibly caused earthquake that may have killed porcelain people (they say it was the Jester, but I dunno), and now they want to murder the trees too? Dorothy's getting a bit of a blood lust.

Turns out those trees remember the last time she picked some apples, and aren't too fond of the idea of any of them becoming a boat. Well, except for one old tree, voiced by Patrick Stewart, who's like "I'm old, my wood's rotten, and I'm already embracing the sweet release of death, so I'll volunteer you savagely chopping me and turning me into your boat". These leads to a boat building song and montage, which is again nothing amazing. The tree is turned into a boat named Tug, and they begin their journey across the river.

They arrive to the Emerald City as it now looks foggy and gloomy. The entire town is abandoned, Dorothy sees the broomstick, and the machine that made the rainbow to bring her there. They get the message from the Scarecrow telling us what we already knew. The Jester shows up to mock them, telling her to leave or else. They get chased by some flying monkeys, and get back on Tug as the monkeys attack. They enter a dark cave, which proves to be flying monkey kryptonite.

Inside said cave are a bunch of fireflies which light their way, all while we get more of the somewhat strange relationship between Mallow and the china princess. The fireflies also apparently know the way to the Jester's hideout, so the group decides to follow them, but what a shocker, the fireflies were the Jester all along, who leads them to a different path, since you know, we still have a half hour left of this frigging movie.

He sends them in the path of a waterfall, as they try their hardest not to go over. However, they still end up doing so, as the Jester is clearly convinced that they've been defeated once and for all. But it turns out they managed to survive somehow.

But sadly, China Princess is dead.

You know, despite the fact that we already know the china people do not die when they're smashed and all, but we need drama and this cliché movie wouldn't be complete with my all time favorite cliché.
Speaking of clichés, Dorothy doesn't want the rest of her friends getting hurt, so she goes to confront the Jester alone, and doesn't want anyone else following her. Though Toto still follows her, so I guess his safety doesn't matter as much as the rest.

Unhappy with the poor quality of work by the flying monkeys, The Jester begins to beat and berate them more, in something I'm certain won't backfire on him in the end of the film. With Dorothy still alive, he opens the welcome mat for her, as this time he plans to finish the job himself. Meanwhile with Mallow torn up over the destruction of his porcelain lover (which even not taking the size into equation, sex with these two would be wicked awkward), Wiser decides to help by finally managing to fly despite his weight, and goes to find a way to help Dorothy. Mallow sings about loving china princess while trying to repair her with his marshmallowy goo.

That really came out wrong.

And it turns out that Mallow's creamy goo does the job of bringing her back to life. Go fig.

Dorothy arrives at the Jester's castle, as he literally rolls out the welcome mat for her. Gotta admit, I wasn't expecting him to be so literal. Inside, Dorothy sees just how messed up everything's become with how he's using Glinda and the others as his personal puppets. The Jester even dressed up for the occasion. He chastises her for giving the witch a bath, but thanks her for giving him the broomstick that he needed. But before he can puppetize her, Toto manages to get him tangled up in a curtain.

And what a shock, the flying monkeys turn on the Jester by stealing the stick on him, and taking him to the top of the tower. Scarecrow used Tin Man's arm as a boomerang, which causes the broomstick to be knocked out of the monkey's hand, and the orb to fall off. However, in that situation, Dorothy and Toto fall to their death...

Oh of course they don't, they get saved at the last second by Wiser. The rest of the gang arrive, with Tug now being remodeled as a tank, and bringing on both the china and candy troops. Meanwhile, the orb continues to fall in a wacky Rube Goldberg-esque manner. The Jester sends the monkeys to fight, and we get a pretty decent little battle, all things considered. Nothing amazing, but far from the most offensive thing.

The monkeys leave just as the Jester gets his orb back, which he uses to cause a giant tornado to killer. She manages to avoid it long enough to get to the broomstick, and breaking the spell. In the process it causes the jester to go flying in the tornado's way, but she saves him. She breaks the stick, but he chooses to go into the twister to get the remains, which kills him off I guess.

With the day saved, Glinda is freed from the spell, and she's more than ready to go home. Also, I guess she doesn't need the ruby slippers this time? She could just go easily without the whole mishegas of the first film? Whatever, this is almost over. Dorothy returns home to see Em and Henry packing up, ready to go. But she has a plan. Since it turns out the appraiser, what a shock, is full of crap. He's just a con man who ends up arrested. So nobody has to leave town, and Dorothy saves both of the days as we just end.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return isn't the worst movie ever, but for a theatrical film it's definitely flawed. The animation is akin to that of a direct to video movie, the acting is bland, the songs are forgettable, and as a sequel to something as classic as the Wizard of Oz, it's really cliché and formulaic. And in an industry that's seeing new concepts and ideas all the time, movies like this that stick to the same tired ideas really don't have the place that they once had.

But was it the worst thing ever? Probably not. Compared to a lot in 2014 though, it was a pretty weak film compared to a lot that hit theaters, but it still had a couple fun moments. A couple scenes of rather disturbing imagery, and I did like most of the final battle. But before all that it was just kind of there, which considering its based on something as fantastical as the Wizard of Oz, something being "just there" doesn't feel right at all. But could you show this to kids and have them enjoy it? Probably. Though you'd be better off showing them the original instead.

In the end, it's not the worst thing I've ever seen, but there really is no need to ever see this one. Just let it get sucked up in the twister and forget all about it.