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Return to Oz Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Julie Salamon

    The makers of Return to Oz say that their rather bleak, nonmusical fantasy is more faithful to Mr. Baum's vision than "The Wizard of Oz" was. What's appropriate, however, isn't always what's right. All Ms. Balk can do is look earnest and young; Ms. Garland opened her mouth and out came Dorothy's soul.

  • 38

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Gene Siskel

    The Nome King looks like a moveable Mt. St. Helens and he alone is magical. In fact, he blows Dorothy and her tacky-looking friends off the screen. So we end up liking the Nome King and hating Dorothy and her crowd, which I doubt was the intention of the L. Frank Baum series. [21 Jun 1985, p.1]

  • 50

    out of 100

    The New York Times Janet Maslin

    The inventiveness that has gone into this, and into turning Oz into a land of lavish special effects, will be lost on anyone with a fondness for the 1939 musical classic. That film will always enchant adults and children alike. This joyless new Return to Oz isn't likely to appeal to the former, and may give many of the latter a good scare. Children are sure to be startled by the new film's bleakness.

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  • 60

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Sheila Benson

    Everyone who grew up with the full range of the Oz books is deeply in Murch's debt. However, the framework surrounding Return to Oz is dark and, I suspect, terribly frightening for very young children. [21 Jun 1985, p.1]

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 8+

1985 sequel to American classic is tin-eared and creepy.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie, a sequel to the Judy Garland classic, is nowhere near as whimsical nor fantastical (nor fantastic) as the original. It has a gloomier, spookier look and feel, though it does have heart. (Dorothy, as in the first movie, is as sweet as ever.) Children 8 and younger will likely find it disturbing, especially if they’re fans of the original. Some scenes show an Oz that’s fallen apart, dominated by a headless princess and a vengeful, stony king. The way they go after Dorothy is a freaky, nerve-wracking sight to behold.

  • Families can talk about why Dorothy is drawn to Oz: What's in that world that isn't in her own? Why does she continue her journey even if it's perilous?
  • What are the lessons she learns from this second journey? Are they different from the first?
  • How does this version compared to the original film, and to the L. Frank Baum books?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Courage can power you through the most frightful situations, especially when friends are in trouble.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: The adults in Dorothy’s world don’t seem to care about what she’s thinking and feeling. In fact, Auntie Em doubts her so much she leaves her in a mental ward to be sorted out. But Dorothy proves resilient; she's also loyal and principled and will go to great lengths to help friends in need.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Adults threaten a child with electroshock therapy so she stops discussing Oz. Kids nearly drown in a river’s raging currents. Heads move and yell, walls connive, and a Nome King is after Dorothy. A gang of monsters chases Dorothy; one threatens to tear her to pieces. A bunch of heads terrorize her, too.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not an issue

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue