Back in 1985, Walt Disney’s Return to Oz scarred a generation of kids by reinventing L. Frank Baum’s beloved fairy tale as a savage parable of pubescent psychosis. The makers of this new computer cartoon musical have opted for the opposite approach, rendering Baum’s sparky characters and lush, engaging fantasy world as blandly as possible. Years have passed in Oz, and a new threat—jingly-hatted Joker clone the Jester—has taken control. Desperate for backup, the Scarecrow and his pals turn to their saviour, Dorothy Gale, for guidance.
The voice cast here reads like a who’s who of scrapheap comedy talent—Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer—plus the expected handful of fruity Brit thesps, including Brian Blessed, and Patrick Stewart as a talking tree. The songs—one of which was penned by Bryan Adams, rock fans—are uniformly drippy and dire, and the episodic, follow-the-yellow-brick-road plot goes pretty much nowhere. Seriously undemanding toddlers might get a kick out of all the bright colours and creaky slapstick, but parents, you have been warned.