American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
“This doesn't look like the Oz I remember.”
Darn right, I wanted to yell at the pigtailed animated 3-D character who tries to pass herself off as the endearing Midwest farm girl we know and love in "Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return," a charmless and mirthless travesty of a sequel to the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz."
To be honest, I have not read the book—"Dorothy of Oz," written by original Oz author Frank L. Baum’s great-grandson, Roger Stanton Baum—that this present-day movie is based on. But judging from the summaries online, I am pretty sure that it was the filmmakers who decided that Dorothy (overloaded with Young-Adult literary heroine spunk by Lea Michele of TV’s "Glee") should randomly wear cowboy boots, Glinda the Good Witch (an ill-used Bernadette Peters) should sound and look like an anesthetized Barbie doll and the Winged Monkeys should sport distracting neon-hued Mohawk hairdos. Instead of being the very essence of creepy this go-round, these hench simians are little more than hairy gnats just asking to be swatted away.
None of these additions compensate for the rather rote narrative, off-putting characters, awful jokes (do we really need to see Toto eye a fire hydrant with potty-time intent?) and a middling mish-mash of song styles that includes rock, love ballads and show tunes. The quality of the animation is passable, with only one memorable use of 3-D, but the vocal acting feels to be heavily under the influence of the louder-is-funnier school of inferior Saturday-morning cartoons. Given that directors Will Finn and Dan St. Pierre are both Disney veterans, they should know better.