Dave's Rating:

0.5

Second bucket of water, please.

It's been mere moments since Dorothy's (the voice of Lea Michele) inaugural tornado-assisted-visit to Oz and she's still sleeping off the concussion. But guess what? Freshly-melted Wicked Witch of The West had a brother, an evil court jester (Martin Short) who does magic, and this cat is so dastardly and fast-working that he's managed to turn the rescued Emerald City into a cartoon version of Escape From New York pretty much overnight. Anybody who tries to stop him is transformed into a marionette and placed in an oxygen chamber.

Simultaneously, Auntie Em and Uncle Henry, as well as the rest of the small Kansas town obliterated by the twister, are being shaken down by an unscrupulous property appraiser who wants to force them all out of their busted-up homes. Nobody in this state has heard of the Red Cross or FEMA.

But there's no time to worry about any of that. The film discards this plot so that the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) and Lion (Jim Belushi) can build a giant rainbow conveyor tube with an equally giant hand at the end of it and vacuum Dorothy back to Oz to fix everything again. Dorothy can't believe she's really back in Oz. She says this out loud. IT'S BEEN ONE DAY SINCE SHE WAS THERE LAST.

She meets a silly owl bigger than a human being, a stick of gum that's also a lawyer and a bitchy porcelain doll. Call it dazzle camouflage, a children's film that delivers quirky weirdness instead of warmth, chaos instead of care. There's plenty of yelling and noise, pointless digressions, ideas introduced and then abandoned, and a final act battle with evil because every children's film needs war. A selection of rotten songs with nearly indecipherable lyrics fill in the dead spaces between the noise. When those lyrics rise above their overbearing arrangements and make themselves known, they seem to be about trying hard, eating candy (Toto licks some chocolate but don't worry, it just makes him belch) and developing confidence in one's own ability to meet the challenge of an evil court jester.

Best of all, this alleged musical legend is delivered with all the vivid, impeccably detailed digital animation one usually sees in non-Pixar offerings of the late 1990s or daytime TV ads for The General auto insurance. What unimaginative, easily-distracted child or disengaged parent wouldn't love the chance to burn some ticket money on it? And what have the rest of us done to deserve it?

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