Home on the Range

Movie Information

Score:

Genre: Kids Animation
Director: Will Finn, John Sanford
Starring: Roseanne, Judi Dench, Jennifer Tilly, Cuba Gooding Jr., Randy Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker
Rated: PG

It’s the Old West, and big, bad cattle rustler Alameda Slim (voiced by Randy Quaid) has been using his hypnotic yodel to steal all the cattle within earshot. Without their herds, the small ranchers are forced into bankruptcy and lose everything. Maggie, a prized prima donna dairy cow (voiced by Roseanne), is given a new home with Pearl (voice of Sarah Jessica Parker), a sweet old lady who single-handedly farms a tiny plot of dusty earth called “Patch of Heaven.”

Pearl’s other cows aren’t too thrilled to have a smart-mouthed cud-chewer bull her way into their contented paradise. Mrs. Calloway (voiced by Judi Dench) is a cautious old cow who shows off her propriety with a purple hat. Grace (voiced by Jennifer Tilly) is a dreamy, New Age-y teenager who always seeks the organic, holistic solution to barnyard conflicts. But with her quick wit and clever tricks, Maggie wins the hearts of the other barnyard denizens — the old goat, the chicken chorus, the mama pig and her little triplets, and my favorite, the quartet of teeny, daffodil-hued chick fuzzballs.

Uh-oh! The sheriff arrives with bad news: Pearl has to come up with $750 in 3 days or the bank will foreclose. Pearl weeps. Why not sell off the animals to pay the bill, the sheriff asks. Pearl is horrified. “You can’t sell family!” she cries. Not those cute, singing, dancing, joke-telling critters!

The sheriff’s horse, Buck (voiced by Cuba Gooding Jr.), isn’t too concerned. All he wants to do is prove to the world what a macho, karate-expert equine he is. Rico (voiced by Charles Dennis), the square-jawed bounty hunter, rides into town — and Buck’s overjoyed when Rico chooses him to ride out on. They’re manly pardners now, on the search for Alameda Slim and the $750 reward money.

Seven-hundred and fifty dollars? Why that’s exactly what’s needed to save Pearl and her farm! So the three cows set off to capture the cattle thief and collect the reward. It’s a fearsome journey for our heroines, who’ve never really been independent heifers. Off into the wide desert they go, traversing canyons and mountainside paths, racing trains, descending into mining caverns, and, most terrifying of all, facing a herd of horny longhorns. But with bodacious bovine pluck, the gals capture the dastardly Alameda Slim and save the day!

The songs (by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken) are terrific (but too few), the story is classic B-Western, the action is non-stop, the animation is comfortingly familiar, and there’s the usual cast of quirky supporting characters. And although the only laughter I heard from the packed audience was a torrent of giggles near the end prompted by some robust, good-old-fashioned comic violence, Home is still amusing enough to corral the little ones for a bargain matinee.

The movie is the last 2-D animated Disney film, and its long end-credits roll is a sad farewell to the magicians of a bygone era. For those of us who never imagined a year would go by without a traditional Disney animated movie, no wish upon a star can halt the tramp of technological “progress.” The animators with all their magical drawing pens have already packed up and left the studio. Adios, amigos.

– reviewed by Marci Miller

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