Tom and Jerry Go Back to Oz in Animated Musical Delight

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Tom and Jerry Back to Oz

TOM AND JERRY: BACK TO OZ is the animated sequel to TOM AND JERRY AND THE WIZARD OF OZ, which finds our classic cat and mouse frenemies joining Dorothy and Toto on her MGM journey.

In BACK TO OZ, Dorothy has just returned to find nobody believes her tale. Even when she has the ruby slippers to prove it, there's justification for why her story of Oz is just a fancy.

But Dorothy doesn't have time to worry about convincing Uncle Henry, Aunt Em, or the farmhands, Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke. She and the Gale family are still cleaning up after the twister when they find themselves on the verge of losing what's left of the family farm, when neighboring Mr. Bibb (Jason Alexander) files a lawsuit claiming that the twister released some of the Gale pigs who then plundered his prize watermelon patch. Knowing the Gales have no financial resources, he's willing to take his payment in land and livestock, giving the family 24 hours to find a way to pay him otherwise.

As the family and farmhands head into town to see what can be done, they leave Dorothy behind to stay out of trouble. And that's when the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion all show up, in need of Dorothy's help. Ruggedo the Gnome King has invaded Oz and taken the throne for himself, and Dorothy's reputation as a witch-slayer has prompted him to send the flying monkeys after Dorothy. To return to Oz, Dorothy is going to need the help of her ruby slippers, an anti-twister invention of Zeke's -- and the venerable Wizard himself, who has re-established himself as a carnival attraction. (A lot happened between the time Dorothy got out of bed and this moment -- it was a very busy afternoon, dont try to make it fit a timeline.)

While Tom and Jerry almost seem ancillary to the adventure, they do get their moments. Tom and the Lion go on a side adventure that pits the Lion against the Hungry Tiger (Andrea Martin), who wants to be the new Queen of the Forest. And Jerry earns the adoration of the Mouse Queen, which sets his heart all pitter-pat. There are even guest appearances by Droopy Dog and Spike, as hired guards of the Gnome King.

The story is fun, and borrows faithfully in equal amounts from the MGM classic and the original Baum stories. However, it's the music that sets this direct-to-DVD release above others on the shelf. The songs are simply amazing -- although I have to wonder why they cast a different voice for Dorothy's songs. Amy Pemberton was certainly delightful, and belted out the tunes with all the verve of a full-on Broadway production, but I wonder if nobody informed the producers that Dorothy was already voiced by the very musically gifted Grey Griffen. Fans of the original WIZARD OF OZ movie will be extremely interested in knowing that one of the songs in this release is "The Jitterbug," a number that had been cut from the original film, and had only been shown in part in special features.

This release has two other outstanding features to it -- small things but when added to something already so great they just make it even better. The first is a sing-along option so that you can really get into the musical numbers. The second is an alternate viewing method for the feature film: it's the same film as the feature presentation, except re-colorized so that all the Kansas scenes are set in sepia tones. That really brings the viewer into the whole MGM effect. You may even end up watching the Judy Garland version again after this, wondering where Tom and Jerry are hiding in the scenery!

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0