April 7, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 99  

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A fun moooo-vie!

Home on the Range
Starring the voices of: Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench, Jennifer Tilly
Directed by: Will Finn and John Stanford

By Arlee Rosenberg
Gazette Staff

Walt Disney Pictures/2004
MILK DOES A COW’S BODY GOOD. Our milk producing friends become the stars of Disney’s new barnyard animated film Home on the Range. Yes, they talk.

Disney’s cherished studio hasn’t produced a worthy animated feature-length film in years. Progress peaked with 1999’s Tarzan, and has since steadily declined, from Atlantis and Lilo & Stitch, to last year’s bland Brother Bear.

But the release of the unexpectedly pleasant Home on the Range, a smart and lively adventure set on the American frontier, temporarily places Disney’s 2-D animation station back in the saddle.

Home succeeds by simply returning to Disney’s roots. It certainly doesn’t raise the bar for hand-drawn animation, but improvements are noticeable in the plot and character development. Home actually dreams up a clever story by creating characters we still remember two days later.

That said, it definitely helps that the characters are three personable cows, voiced perfectly by Roseanne Barr (the show-off), Dame Judi Dench (the rule-abider) and Jennifer Tilly (the pacifist). Their mission is simple: being cows and all, they must somehow earn enough money to prevent closure on Patch of Heaven, their owner’s ranch. Their path to success is blocked by a conceited stallion (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a yodeling crook and a bounty hunter.

The movie reminds us that cartoons can be funny. Puns are integrated throughout the clever script, and with some very funny farm jokes, you will find yourself laughing. “Remember when Grace helped you figure out why you crossed the road?” one character asks a chicken. Hardy har-har.

The film is not out to win awards, but rather to leave a warm and cozy feeling as it spins a small story.

Unfortunately for parents, the wild west theme that whips into a frenzied conclusion will make the kids want to watch Home over and over again. With great new songs performed by k.d. lang and Tim McGraw, this barnyard musical will have moo-viegoers stampeding to the theatres.

It may not be Oscar material for Disney, but it is endearing entertainment.



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