Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Home on the Range

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: PG

Starring:
Roseanne as Maggie (voice)
Judi Dench as Mrs. Calloway (voice)
Jennifer Tilly as Grace (voice)
Cuba Gooding Jr. as Buck (voice)
Randy Quaid as Alameda Slim (voice)
Charles Haid as Lucky Jack (voice)
Steve Buscemi as Wesley (voice)
Joe Flaherty as Jeb, the Goat (voice)
G.W. Bailey as Rusty, the Dog (voice)
Carole Cook as Pearl Gesner (voice)
Charlie Dell as Ollie, the Pig (voice)
Charles Dennis as Rico (voice)
Marshall Efron as Larry, the Duck (voice)
Estelle Harris as Audrey, the Chicken (voice)
Lance LeGault as Junior, the Buffalo (voice)
Sam J. Levine as The Willie Brothers (voice)
Richard Riehle as Sheriff Sam Brown
Mark Walton as Barry & Bob, the Longhorns (voice)
Patrick Warburton as Patrick (voice)
Dennis Weaver as Abner (voice)

Special Features:
Bonus Short "A Dairy Tale: The Three Little Pigs"

Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker Intros

Yodel Memory Game

Yodel Maker DVD-ROM

The Joke Corral

Music Video "Anytime You Need A Fried" performed by the Beu Sisters

Trailblazers: The Making of Home on the Range

Art Review

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.66:1) Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
THX Certified
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language Track
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 76 Minutes

Synopsis:
When the bank threatens to foreclose on the "Little Patch Of Heaven" farm, three dairy cows look for a way to raise money to save it. The adventurous Maggie comes up with an idea to earn a reward by catching notorious cattle rustler Alameda Slim. The conservative Mrs. Calloway is vehemently against it, but she eventually gets roped into going against her will. The off-key singing Grace goes along for the ride as well.

The three cows soon find they have competition in hunting Alameda Slim. The enthusiastic sheriff's horse Buck is hot on his trail along with the bounty hunter Rico. They soon find themselves in a race to brave the hazards of the Old West and capture Slim. But will Maggie and the cows be able to resist the melodious yodeling voice of Alameda Slim when they come face to face with him?

Home on the Range is rated PG for brief mild rude humor.

The Movie:
I missed Home on the Range when it hit theaters, so I was eager to check it out on DVD. After all, it is one of the last 2-D animated feature films from Disney for quite a while. The final product ends up being a bit of a mixed bag. While it doesn't measure up to The Lion King, Aladdin, or Beauty and the Beast, it is a lighthearted comedy with some fun jokes, good songs, and some unique characters. It ends up being fun for both adults and children.

Home on the Range is set in the Old West, a unique location for a Disney animated film. The backgrounds are absolutely beautiful and the animal characters are amusing. You have coyotes, rattlesnakes, jackrabbits, and more that offer all sorts of comedic moments. While the animation never offers are groundbreaking moments (ala the stampede in The Lion King or the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast), it is still well drawn. A mine car chase is particularly impressive with a scene where dynamite gets accidentally lit providing an appropriately explosive finish. Another scene featuring psychedelic cows hypnotized by a yodeling Alameda Slim is also reminiscent of the "Pink Elephants On Parade" scene from Dumbo. Overall it's some decent 2-D animation.

The voice casting on this film is excellent. The characters really match the personalities of the actors. Roseanne is outgoing and occasionally rude as Maggie. Judi Dench is prim and proper (and a little stuffy) as Mrs. Calloway. Jennifer Tilly is ditzy as Grace. She also sings off key, but I would have expected that more from Roseanne. Cuba Gooding Jr. is a bit of a spaz as Buck, but he helps add comic relief to the film even more. Randy Quaid is also amusing as the yodeling, obese Alameda Slim. Also listen for cameos by Steve Buscemi, Joe Flaherty, Estelle Harris, Patrick Warburton, and Dennis Weaver.

One of the best things about this film is the music. (My kids have been listening to the CD of the soundtrack for months.) K. d. Lang kicks things off with the upbeat and laid back "Little Patch Of Heaven". It's a catchy little tune that you may find yourself humming long after the credits. It's followed by the amusing yodeling song with Randy Quaid. Bonnie Raitt sings the touching and sad "Will the Sun Ever Shine Again". And even if you're not a fan of country music, you'll probably enjoy Tim McGraw's "Wherever the Trail May Lead". Overall it's a strong collection of songs by Alan Menkin.

Home on the Range ends up being a fun film for both kids and adults. It's certainly not a home run for Disney, but it is good for some light entertainment. I think it's definitely worth adding to your Disney collection.

The Extras:
There are quite a few bonus features included on this DVD. Here are the highlights:

Bonus Short "A Dairy Tale: The Three Little Pigs" The cast from Home on the Range act out The Three Little Pigs as told by Ms. Calloway. It starts out sane enough but quickly gets out of hand as Maggie, Buck, Jeb, and the others throw their own spins on the story. The animation is quite different from that in the film. The characters look like they are cut out from quilt squares or something. It's a brief but fun video.

Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker Intros There are four deleted scenes included on this DVD. The first is an alternate intro to the movie featuring three singing Mexican moths. As old Wild West footage plays, they dance in and out of the film singing "Heroes and Villains". If you look carefully, you'll see the original title of the film blink by "Sweating Bullets". The title was eventually changed and the Mexican moths were dropped altogether. In another scene the cows and the jackrabbit are chased by a pack of coyotes with hilarious results. I actually would have liked to have seen this one in the final cut of the film. A third scene shows an alternate introduction of the rabbit and we learn more about his unlucky past. The final scene shows an alternate version of Slim's diabolical plan to take over Washington with an army of hypnotized cows. I think the final version worked better there. All in all it's a nice batch of deleted scenes.

Yodel Memory Game This is a game aimed directly at the kiddies. You do a basic game like "Simon" where you repeat the pattern of yodeling characters that pop up.

The Joke Corral This is a lot like the old Laugh In bit where the characters popped out of doors and told jokes. It's the same here only with the stylized Home on the Range characters. The jokes are mostly weak and they last almost 5 minutes altogether.

Music Video "Anytime You Need A Fried" performed by the Beu Sisters The song by Alan Menkin is good but the young singers aren't particularly noteworthy. The video shows them playing around a barn while clips from the film roll.

Trailblazers: The Making of Home on the Range In this "making of" video, the creators lead you through the process of bringing the story from idea to the big screen. They talk about all the different versions the story went through. First the star was a young city slicker, then a young cowboy, then a young longhorn, then Maggie. You also see alternate versions of Buck and other characters. The creators show you their visit to a real ranch and cattle drive, the recording sessions with the actors, and the recording of the songs. You also learn that Alan Menkin wrote Bonnie Raitt's song just after 9/11 occurred. That adds an extra dimensions to the song that you might not have otherwise caught. Overall it's a thorough look at the making of the film. It's 16 minutes long.

Art Review A couple of the artists from the film take a very in-depth look at some of the artwork. They focus on the background art and the concept art. They talk about capturing the colors, landscape, and more. If you like animation and artwork, you'll love this.

The Bottom Line:
Home on the Range is lighthearted entertainment for kids and adults (even if you don't like Roseanne). It's worth checking out and the extras have a nice selection of features for both adults and children.

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