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.
Director: Daniel St. Pierre and Will Finn
Writer: Adam Balsam, Randi Barnes and Barry Glasser
Producer: Bonne Radford, Ryan Carroll, Roland Carroll, Neil L. Kaufman and Greg Centineo
Cast: Lea Michele, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Jim Belushi, Megan Hilty, Hugh Dancy, Oliver Platt, Patrick Stewart and Bernadette Peters
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return 3D