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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first heard of and saw clips of The Oz Kids from the preview/trailer
of it on some movie (I'm not sure of what that was at the moment) back
in the '90s. I never saw this and the other movies, nor the T.V.
series, and I wouldn't see this for almost 20 years until just a couple
of late nights ago on Youtube. I enjoyed what I saw, not only is it one
of the greatest re-imaginings in the whole franchise ever made, but I
find that it's also quite impressive for a straight-to-video animated
movie. I'd been somewhat curious to check this out for a couple decades
and now that I've finally saw one of the movies in its own, separate
franchise in its own right, I wasn't disappointed. Now I wish I'd seen
this and the others sooner.
Since this is among those longer than an approximately half-hour episode of the show, I'm not sure if this could and should be considered to be an extended, pilot episode. Maybe it is, but here's the rundown: Rather than being another one of those cartoons featuring younger versions of characters, this actually features the offspring of the Wizard of Oz characters. In the Oz Kids' first film, it's actually Toto 2 who ends up getting lost in New York. It begins with the kids preparing the get a hot air balloon to float off of the ground so they can travel outside Oz. Toto 2 wants to play with them and tries to get them to do so, but they can't be bothered with that at the moment. The young sorceress, Andrea ( who is interestingly enough a neutral and complex character in that she exhibits the traits of both her mother, Glinda, and the wicked witch of the West), wants to join in on their activities, but the other kids won't let her. Andrea decides to get back at them by messing with Frank's (son of The Wizard) computer by entering the simple password, which is after the titular land, to get the air balloon started. Toto 2 gets in the balloon's basket and ends up getting carried away to New York. The others are displeased at her for this act and still refuse to invite her, but they're left with no other choice as she's the only one who knows the destination and how to get there, so she had to come along for the ride too. Therefore, they take another air balloon to the big city, thus, begins their adventure. After they arrive there, they eventually find Toto 2 but not without several mishaps along the way that include the cairn terrier getting separated from the kids in a subway train, getting dog-napped by two boys (who later have a change of heart), being pursued to the top of the Statue of Liberty, and stealing, then eating a sausage from a hot dog vendor's sausage link. While in New York, the non-human kids are fascinated by the technology, but have to be inconspicuous and not draw attention, but it's easier said than done. All throughout chaos and hilarity ensues, and there's plenty of them. The kids also meet a homeless man named Rick, who helps them return to Oz once they finally retrieve Toto 2. After returning to Oz in a storm, the kids' air balloon falls from the sky (thanks to a creature called an orc), onto an area with quick sand or sand traps, they get sucked down it and end up in an underground cave with large crabs. But Rick comes to their rescue. Once the kids are closer to home, they invite Rick to stay in Oz, taking pity after learning of his vagrant lifestyle. Before returning home, they have lunch with three munchkins. After the kids' parents are told about their adventure or misadventure, all is well that ends well, except that the kids get punished.
I thought this was a well-done continuation/extension of the Oz story. Everything about it, from the animation to the coloration to the voice acting is superb. I like that most of the boys (Scarecrow Jr., Tin Boy, Pumpkinhead Jr., Frank) are prodigies, that is another nice touch. The relationship between the twin lion cubs, Boris and Bela (son and daughter of the Cowardly Lion), as almost completely polar opposites plays off well. And the heroine and hero, Dot and Neddie, as the daughter and son of Dorothy, rounds up the line-up. I think I found my new favorite animated movie series/T.V. series from the '90s. It may even be one of the most underrated of not only the decade, but of all time. I recommend it, because it may be among the finest in animation you'll come across. Full of positive lessons and messages that don't make this a waste of time. I wish the T.V. series ran longer, but it's nice to see that at least there's the bonus of having the movies as well. If only I had rented/bought/owned them, I wish I did, I would've loved to have them in my collection.
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