Home on the Range
April 2, 2004
On the Big Board
||This is the way Disney Animation goes out: not with a bang but a whimper.
||Just a huge disappointment all around. Roseanne ruins everything.
Just as questions about the future of traditional animation are raised in the aftermath of Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas’ failure, Disney makes a return to the animated musical format that brought them so much success in the ‘80s and ‘90s. A movie that appears to be a hybrid of Chicken Run and The Emperor’s New Groove, this unlikely story will either help to revive the entire genre or it may wind up as traditional animation’s last gasp.
Rumored to be one of Disney’s funniest animated films in years, Home on the Range tells the story of the unacknowledged hero(ine)es of the Old West – the cows. These unlikely champions come to the rescue of the owner of their family farm when they learn that she owes $1,000 mortgage on her farm and has no way to pay it. Granted, the motivations of the cows -- Maggie, Grace, and Mrs. Caloway -- aren’t all selfless; they’re worried that their owner might sell them to a local meat-packing plant to scrape up the money.
Fortunately, Buck the Stallion (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) has caught wind of a $1,000 bounty on the head of one Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid), a notorious cattle rustler and wanted criminal. It seems Buck is frustrated about being nothing more than the local sheriff’s delivery horse and is looking to capture a little glory, so he sets off with the ladies to help them capture the baddie and collect the reward. Unbeknownst to our heroes, Alameda Slim has an unexpected weapon: a mesmerizing yodel that stops his bovine pursuers right in their tracks.
Along with Gooding, Jr. and Quaid, the cast so far includes Dame Judi Dench as one of the cows, Sarah Jessica Parker as the widow owner of the farm, and the singing voice of country star Trisha Yearwood. Along with Glenn Slater, Alan Menken is composing the music for the movie, which is significant because Menken was involved with many of Disney’s most successful animated musicals, including Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. In fact, this is Disney’s first full-blown cartoon musical since 1998’s Mulan, so in the world of children’s animation, Home on the Range is almost a throwback.
Taking a tip from Steven Spielberg’s book, none of the cowboys in the movie will drink, smoke, cuss, or carry guns. Given the light subject matter and humorous intent, that’s probably appropriate. Even though it’s a comedy, Home on the Range is going to be fairly important in the annals of animation history, whether for good or for bad. With a reported budget in the $90 million range, it’s either going to break out huge and mark a resurgence of the traditional genre (a la Lilo & Stitch), or it’s going to bring about the end of an era (like Sinbad and Titan A.E.). With the Disney name attached, the hope is that the quality audiences have come to expect will propel it to long-term success and revitalize an industry that is under some fire at the moment. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Vital statistics for Home on the Range
Judi Dench, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Jessica Parker, Randy Quaid
David Burnham, Ja’Net DuBois, Gregory Jbara, Jason Graae, Charles Denis, Trisha Yearwood
Will Finn, John Sanford
Will Finn, John Sanford
||Walt Disney Pictures
||Click Here for Trailer
||Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture
Comparison films for Home on the Range
|Lion King, The
|Lilo & Stitch
|Hunchback of Notre Dame
|Emperor's New Groove, The
|Beauty and the Beast