Sunday, June 12, 2011

PTU Movie Review: Return to Oz

Return to Oz, released in 1985, entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest time between original and sequel - totaling 46 years (1939 - 1985). After Frank Baum, the author of the Oz books (of which there are 40 in total, with 14 actually written by him) passed away, the Oz stories became part of the public domain and so Disney took this opportunity to buy the rights in order to create a sequel. Return to Oz is based on the second and third books in the Oz series, and it's set 30 days after Dorothy has returned to Kansas from her original adventures in Oz.

While made by Disney and apparently targeting young children, the movie is incredibly dark and twisted. Dorothy cannot stop speaking about her adventures in Oz (which no one believes), so her family decides to get her psychiatric help and sends her off to a mental institution. When she is strapped down to a gurney and entered into a dark room to receive shock therapy, she is somehow able to escape, and a series of events occur that finalize with her waking up on the shores of the Dead Desert, on the outskirts of Oz, with her new companion - a talking chicken.

There are all sorts of strange characters: for instance, she befriends Jack Pumpkinhead, who has all sorts of mommy issues, and insists on calling Dorothy "mom", to which she accepts. Eventually, with a couple of new friends by her side, Dorothy makes it to the mountains surrounding the Land of Oz, where she faces the evil Gnome King (who wears the ruby slippers like a real fruity pants).

The movie has has big flaws - such as terrible special effects and awfully redone customs for the scarecrow, lion, and tinman - but overall it is definitely worth watching just for the strange approach that Disney took towards making a dark and twisted sequel to such a beloved movie. Fairuza Balk, who most PTU readers probably wont know by name even though she was in about twelve 90's movies that you've seen, stars as Dorothy, in her first role as an actress. Fairuza (as an adult) falls just short of Brittany Murphy in the category of yammable, cracked-out, crazy white actresses - which I admit to being into.

Since this post is already way too long, I will finish it here and recommend that PTU readers check out the on-line documentary about the movie: The Joy That Got Away.

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