Home on the Range

on April 02, 2004 by Tim Cogshell
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Three cows and a horse--along with various other barnyard animals--attempt to save their beloved dairy farm from foreclosure and the grips of a ruthless yodeling cattle rustler named Alameda Slim. "Home on the Range" has less in common with Disney's animated films of the last decade (from "The Lion King" to the "Toy Story" movies) than it does with any given Saturday morning cartoon. This is a cartoon--a really big cartoon, with a star cast and an Oscar-winning composer (Alan Menken with lyricist Glenn Slater)--but it's a cartoon nonetheless. It doesn't have much of a moral objective, though it's in no way objectionable; and it's a high-tech production, though the technology used to create it is hidden well behind its simple palette and flat, neat vistas. Its western landscape of cactus, sagebrush and mountains is uncluttered, rendered mostly in silhouetted representational blocks of color. In many ways it's a breath of fresh air: solidly 2-D, including its narrative. In equal measure it's a road comedy, western musical and good ole race against the clock.

The cows--Maggie, Mrs. Caloway and Grace (voiced by Rosanne Barr, Judi Dench and Jennifer Tilly, respectively)--are sassy, as is the horse, Buck (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who does karate. The whole stable decides they can save of the farm for their affable owner Pearl (Broadway star Carole Cook) by catching the notorious rustler Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid) who has the mysterious ability to yodel cows into submission. The songs are not show-stoppers but they're pretty enough. The merchandising appeal of "Nemo" is absent, but the movie is cute and it hits all the usual beats without grating. Voiced by Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench, Cuba Gooding Jr., Randy Quaid and Joe Flaherty. Directed and written by Will Finn and John Sanford. Produced by Alice Dewey Goldstone. A Buena Vista release. Animated comedy. Rated PG for brief mild rude humor. Running time: 77 min

Tags: Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench, Cuba Gooding Jr., Randy Quaid, Joe Flaherty, Will Finn, John Sanford, Alice Dewey Goldstone, Buena Vista, Animated Comedy, humor, crude, western, musical, animals, dairy, farm
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