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
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