Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz on iTunes

I have four words for Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz.  A. DOR. A. BLE! 

A couple of fine gentlemen reported on The Wizard of Oz Collectors United Facebook page that Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz is available to rent on iTunes for $3.99. 

Bear in mind this is not meant to be an exact remake.  It's a movie about Tom & Jerry's exploits in Oz.  The run time is just under and hour so scenes are shortened or cut entirely, but it's perfect for this type of cartoon.  Had they gone much longer the novelty and charm could have worn off. 

Tom & Jerry seem to have an idyllic existence at the Gale Farm and their affection for Dorothy and Toto is endearing.  After valiantly attempting to rescue Dorothy after her fall in the pigsty, Aunt Em implores Tom & Jerry to put their differences aside and work together to protect Dorothy and Toto.  Naturally, they are caught up in the tornado with their charges and off to Oz they go. 

Once in Oz, they find Dorothy and Toto have already begun their journey.  They team up with Tuffy the Munchkin mouse and set off to find their beloved mistress.  And her little dog too!!

The focus shifts to Tom and Jerry for a short while, but they catch up to Dorothy and her new friends just before they reach Emerald City.

Much of the original Oz score is used and the animation is really beautiful.  Oz is incredibly vivid and I especially liked some of the artistic liberties taken with the decor of the Wicked Witch's castle.  My only complaint with the animation is that the Kansas sequences weren't sepia.  Oz would have been even more dazzling with the contrast.

My only other real complaint is Tom & Jerry's antics during Over the Rainbow which distracted from Nikki Yanofsky's singing.  They didn't go over the top, but Judy Garland once said there's something sacred about that song and I share the same sentiment.  I think the whole scene should have been played straight. 

Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz would be a good introduction for small children.  I've met a lot of parents that have misgivings about the Wicked Witch.  In this cartoon, the intensity is toned down and the Witch is a comic foil to the lunacy of Tom & Jerry.

I don't want to go into too much detail lest I spoil, but the Oz animation is spectacular.  Tom & Jerry integrate well into the plot lines especially with the final confrontation of the Wicked Witch.  There's even  a nod to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with a fleeting glimpse of  Kalidahs.  The voice characterizations aren't exact, but they have the familiar timbres without sounding forced.  I think Grey DeLisle, as Dorothy's speaking voice, did a very good job emoting Dorothy's sincerity. 

All in all, I thought it was very cute and an admirable effort on Warner Brothers' part to bring more children into the Oz fold.  This cartoon reinforces my personal desire to see The Wizard of Oz remade as a full length animated feature.  With beefed up orchestration and the original cast voices of course. 

Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz will be on DVD and Blu-ray August 23rd.