Reviewed by: Ed Cox
|Featuring||Judi Dench, Cuba Gooding Jr., Randy Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Steve Buscemi|
|Director||John Sanford, Will Finn (The Road to El Dorado)|
|Producer||Alice Dewey Goldstone|
|Distributor||Walt Disney Pictures|
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: Walt Disney Pictures’ rollicking animated musical-comedy brings the music of Oscar®-winning composer Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” etc.) to this colorfully wild and woolly tale. When a greedy outlaw named Alameda Slim (voiced by Randy Quaid) schemes to take possession of the “Patch of Heaven” dairy farm, three determined cows (voiced by Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench, and Jennifer Tilly), a karate-kicking stallion named Buck (voiced by Cuba Gooding Jr.), and a colorful corral of critters join forces to save the farm in a wild quest full of high-spirited adventure.
Braving bad men and the rugged western landscape, this unlikely assortment of animals risk their hides and match wits with a mysterious bounty hunter named Rico in a high stakes race to capture Slim and collect the reward money. Stylishly retro animation, hilarious action sequences and new songs performed by such stars as K.D. Lang, Bonnie Raitt and Tim McGraw.
It might be considered more of a musical than a comedy from the audience reaction to this one hour and ten minute offering. There are a number of musical numbers performed by a variety of artists, some current and nearly current. The set-up harkens back to the Disney formula of “Beauty and the Beast,” but without any serious toe-tapping offerings. The point of a comedy is to laugh—a musical, to want to sing along. Neither of these objectives was achieved with “Home on the Range.”
The moral fabric of the movie is no better or worse than what you might expect from the churning at Disney (Disney without Pixar, that is). Each character begins wrapped in self, finding at the end of the movie that teamwork can bring about the desired change where individuals would have failed.
The story centers on the issue of revenge and is the driver of the main character throughout the film. Maggie (Rosan Barr) has seen her life changed by rustler Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid) who relieved her previous cattle ranch of its cattle. This event changed her life and now drives her to seek revenge on her transgressor. This issue of exacting an eye for an eye is something the secular worldview has readily adopted, so you won’t see anything new here (certainly nothing a child can’t be involved with), but it certainly raises the issue for family discussion.
There is a character (Lucky Jack, a rabbit) who is introduced as a “shaman.” While offered as a spiritual guide for about 10 seconds, he quickly becomes one of the ganging seeking to join the adventure and serves only as a local guide for the group (the movie’s Web site pushes him as the “shaman, chef, chief cook and bottle washer”).
A couple of side-bar characters (steers in a separate cattle drive) are a recurring story add-on in the movie. Their references and interests come across as more leering (than pure romantic interest) than is really necessary for a children’s cartoon. This observation comes from my two daughters, not adult eyes, so realize this attitude is obvious to all in attendance.
Along the same note, the issue of “diversity” is introduced briefly in the form of a buffalo that finds the main cow characters attractive as well. I may be digging a little deep here for things to prepare you for, but these issues are there, so be advised for your viewing choices and preparation.
Except for the chatter from the young children in the theater, the public viewing I attended was strangely quiet; the young children were talking, but not about the movie. In a typical kid’s movie, there are jokes laid out for the kids and jokes for the adults (who pay for the tickets). There were only two places where the audience reacted as a group and both times the “joke” was a belch. One daughter stated that the movie used “last century’s jokes” as a script. They scored the movie as a 5 out of 10 (and these are pretty forgiving young movie reviewers).
Pay the matinee price if it’s raining and the house is already clean. No new ground is broken, no innovations are offered. “Home on the Range” is a grade-B Saturday movie to MAYBE see one time and forget about. If you are starved for a movie choice for the kids, you, of course, could do a lot worse—you might want to consider taking the same money, buying “Finding Nemo,” cuddle on the couch and talk after about how parental love mirrors Christ’s love for us.
Violence: Minor | Profanity: None | Sex/Nudity: None