Home On The Range

***

Reviewed by: David Stanners

I've never been a fan of the more recent Disney pictures, particularly during chairman Michael Eisner's reign, where money talks and nothing else matters. But their latest offering, Home On The Range, does its very best to pull a company, beleaguered by negative speculation and lawsuits, up by its bootstraps.

The film uses the voices of Judi Dench, Roseanne Barr and Jennifer Tilly as mismatched cows out to save their beloved owner's farm from a notorious yodelling cattle rustler, Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid). Placed in a small dairy farm, called Patch of Heaven, the animals live happily without fear of the slaughterhouse until the day the bank makes demands for back payments. Fear starts to spread through Patch of Heaven, as rumours abound that it will be sold. Carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, Maggie (Roseanne) persuades her bovine partners Mrs. Calloway (Dench) and Grace (Tilly) to track down Slim and secure a $750 bounty, which will pay off the debt for Patch of Heaven.

Home On The Range has a charmingly simple, if unoriginal, plot, a smart Alan Menken score and enough subversive humour to wring a chuckle or two out of mum and dad. Typecast to perfection, Roseanne voices the fat, sassy cow, with humungous burps and opinions to match, while Dench is the model of British propriety in bovine form and Tilly a gentle New Age space cadet whose touchy-feely sensibility and penchant for bursts of song couldn't be more out of step with the usual Darwinian ethos of the old Wild West.

The animation is sharp, quirky and highly kinetic. Nothing stands still, as the pace bolts ahead making pit stops at all the obligatory hallmarks of the Western - saloons, mineshafts, deserts, main streets in cowboy towns, deep valleys, giant cactuses and trains.

A film like this is great for kids: fun, bright, short (76 minutes) and action packed, with a soft nurturing touch. While it doesn't come close to the Disney classics, it has enough to keep parents from yawning, the kids from rustling around and feminists from complaining about macho perceptions of the Western frontier. With organic farming, songs from k d lang and some cracking yodelling from our rogue maverick Slim, complaints should only raise a whisper.

Reviewed on: 06 Aug 2004
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Home On The Range packshot
A greedy cattle rustler tries to evict the animals from their land, but the animals have other ideas.
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David Haviland **

Director: Will Finn, John Sanford

Writer: Will Finn, John Sanford

Starring: voices of Roseanne Barr, Steve Buscemi, Judi Dench, Cuba Gooding Jr., Randy Quaid, Jennifer Tilly, Charles Dennis, G W Bailey, Bobby Block, Carole Cook, Charlie Dell, Joe Flaherty

Year: 2004

Runtime: 76 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US

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