Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return

 
Kids will like well-intentioned sequel, but it lacks magic.
  • Review Date: May 9, 2014
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Children will learn a little about what happens after a disaster, since Dorothy’s family is shown dealing with the aftermath of the tornado. A streak of activism runs through the film, as Dorothy fights for her family’s right to stay in their home and rebuild.

Positive messages

Power corrupts, and so can hungering for it. Also, you can do anything you want if you set your mind to it. So think positively!

Positive role models

Dorothy is brave, humble, and caring, and she wants to stand up for what's right. Her friends also embody positive character traits, including courage, determination, generosity, and commitment.

Violence & scariness

In 3D, some of the battle scenes (even if they're between flying monkeys and chocolate soldiers) can be intense, especially for very young children. After one skirmish, a character is injured severely, and younger viewers may be upset. The Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow are tortured by a villain; his "punishments" include submerging the Tin Man in water and attaching the Scarecrow to a spinning wheel surrounded by fire. Kansas is shown as having been ravaged by the tornado that originally transported Dorothy to Oz.

Sexy stuff

Innocent romance between two of Dorothy's new friends.

Language

Words like "fool" and "knucklehead" are used to disparage others.

Consumerism

Although there are no product placements in the actual film, Legends of Oz has lots of merchandise/tie-ins available.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return is a sweet, if unoriginal, 3D animated musical that boasts a cast of characters who will be familiar to fans of the original Wizard of Oz, as well as many new ones. This time around, Dorothy (voiced by Glee's Lea Michele) returns to Oz to help face a new calamity. Expect some battles that may be scary for younger kids (especially in 3D) -- the flying monkeys are, as always, menacing, as is the central villain, the Jester, who essentially tortures the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man. Another character is gravely hurt after a skirmish, and Dorothy's Kansas home is shown as having sustained a lot of damage from the tornado that first took her to Oz. On the up side, there's no swearing (though words like "knucklehead" and "fool" are used), sex, drinking, or other iffy stuff.

What's the story?

Dorothy (voiced by Lea Michele) is back in tornado-struck Kansas, but not for long: Her Oz friends -- the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), the (no longer) Cowardly Lion (James Belushi), and the Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) -- need her help. The brother of the Wicked Witch, called the Jester (Martin Short), has imprisoned Glinda (Bernadette Peters) and turned her into a marionette, taking the magic broomstick and all its powers with him. Now Dorothy must find her old friends (who have also fallen prey to the Jester's evil plans) with the help of new ones: Wiser the Owl (Oliver Platt), Marshall Mallow (Hugh Dancy), China Princess (Megan Hilty), and Tugg the tugboat (Patrick Stewart). But it's no easy feat: The Jester is formidable, and the flying monkeys are angrier than ever.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Like the edible wonders of Candy County, LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY RETURNS is sweet, and it means well. But will it achieve the icon status of its legendary predecessor? Not likely. For one thing, the story is a retread of the original, with Dorothy picking up a different motley crew on her way back to the Emerald City. For fans of the original Wizard of Oz, that will either feel like an homage or a decided lack of originality. And the songs aren't nearly as compelling or memorable, aside from a catchy duet sparked by the budding romance between Marshall Mallow and the China Princess. (As an aside, given how sarcastic and superficial she is, it's a puzzling flirtation, though she does ultimately become more pleasant.)

The sidekicks from the original story -- the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow -- aren't given much to work with, and we miss them, especially given the talented voice actors who portray them. But at least we get lots of Martin Short, who's fantastic. And the animation, while not up to Pixar standards, bathes the film in nostalgic glow. Keep expectations in check, and you'll enjoy the film for what it is: a harmless return to Oz.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return compares to the original Wizard of Oz. Is it as scary? Scarier? Why? How does the fact that this movie is animated (versus the original's live action) affect the impact of the more frightening scenes/creatures?

  • Dorothy makes new friends on this adventure. Are they similar to or different than the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion? What are the lessons she learns this time around? Are they different from the original?

  • Should some movies be left alone without a sequel? Or is it fun to see Dorothy's story continue?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 9, 2014
DVD release date:August 26, 2014
Cast:Hugh Dancy, Patrick Stewart, Lea Michele
Directors:Dan St. Pierre, Will Finn
Studio:Clarius Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some scary images and mild peril

This review of Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byPeacefulMaster May 14, 2014
age 10+
 

Ugh....

Not appropriate for 6 year olds. CSM review is extremely inaccurate. 10+ is a good rating. My very mature 6 year old sister was absolutely terrified. She had nightmares for weeks. Very disappointed. The movie was terrible. There was too much violence, no role models or messages, and was overall terrible.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educator and Parent Written byMovie Review Maven June 1, 2014
age 5+
 

Was Dorothy's return worth the wait?

Movie Title: Legends of Oz PG, 1 hour 28 minutes Grade: C In a Nutshell: The talented Lea Michele from Glee brings to life a Dorothy who has returned to Oz to fight another colorful villain and save the day. The cast of legendary voices includes Martin Short, Patrick Stewart, Bernadette Peters, Dan Aykroyd, Oliver Platt, Jim Belushi, Kelsey Grammer, and Megan Hilty. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t measure up to their tremendous talent, but offers a diversion for young children who want to see what’s on the other side of the marketing rainbow. The sequel was written by the original author’s grandson. I wonder what L. Frank Baum would have thought of it. It had a Cirque du Soleil: The Mystery of Mystere feel to it, introducing new characters and throwing a spin on the old ones. In a nutshell: harmless, but charmless. Uplifting theme: Loyalty, service to others, fighting evil, friendship Dorothy said “There will always be a rainbow when you need one most.” Things I liked: I liked the visual details of the grass in between the yellow bricks. I got a kick out of the tree with pinecone earrings and the other one with the Reggae dreadlocks. Fireflies ARE magical. Nice design on Tugg’s sail. I LOVE details in animation. China Princess had the most delicate little lips that quivered with emotion. There were some 3D gags which little ones will enjoy. Things I didn’t like: The songs aren’t catchy enough to convince young girls to stop singing the soundtrack from Frozen a million times a day. It doesn’t have the heart of the original The Wizard of Oz . It lacks clever wit and magical charm. The China Princess is not an endearing character that little girls should emulate. Glenda, on the other hand, will do well in merchandising because she was so cute and sweet. I didn’t understand the airbrush checkered shirt on Wiser the Owl. Why? Dorothy’s face looked too old, but I loved her cowboy boots! It was a strange mixture of cartoony animation and more sophisticated drawings. The rolling credits at the end included a gigantic list of names the film was dedicated to. Doesn't that kind of water down the sentiment? Funny lines: “You can’t make a person do that against his will. Dancing is very personal.” - Tin Man Tips for parents: It’s a fairly harmless story with a villain who is more mean than scary. Keep watching during the credits to see the rest of the story unfold.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old May 20, 2014
age 10+
 

Legends of Oz review

I went to this movie hoping for a light comical movie and was very disappointed. I feel that this movie was not well written and seemed lacking in plot development. The character of the china princess was not advanced far enough from the rude manner it had been before, and it seemed odd that Marshall Mallow should fall in love with such a shallow and ill-mannered person. The ease with which the Scarecrow, Tinman, Lion, and all of the other heads of government in Oz were captured and felled was disturbing and seemed to belittle the original characters' strength. I was most disturbed with how Glinda fell so easily as though she had no power. The un-needed violence, ideas of death, thoughts of the thefts of souls, creepy puppet people, and overall macabre tone of the scenes with the jester caused me to feel that the movie is not good for young children.
What other families should know
Too much violence

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