Gather round kids. Let me tell you a tale of the fearsome outlaw who almost took down Sheriff Disney and his entire 2D team…
Yes that’s right. It’s time to talk about Home on the Range. The movie which for 5 years would be blamed for shutting down the Disney 2D hand drawn animation department. Then Princess and the Frog came out and all was right again in the world…
So, is it worthy of the hate? Pretty much yes. I liked some of the animation and the music was entertaining but the rest was a mess.
There is basically no production information out there on this movie and sorry guys I was not about to watch it twice with audio commentary…I love you but not that much.
So, instead of talking about the process and ideas let me just make a couple comments.
First, this movie cost $110 million dollars to make. That seems impossible. Where did the money go? As a point of contrast in 2002 an underrated film, The Wild Thornberry’s Movie, came out (which I should have featured in my non-Disney animation I like). That movie is set in Africa, has great music, a cast as well-known as Home on the Range and it cost 35 million. I defy anyone to make the argument Wild Thornberry’s Movie looks nearly 3 times cheaper to make than Home on the Range . Seriously what the heck Disney?
But I’m not critiquing the budget. It just makes a girl wonder. Could this be like the ‘we know it is going to be terrible movie’ like in The Producers? I mean watch the movie and tell me that is not a possibility. In any case, I find it very hard to believe anyone was actually trying to make a good movie here.
The other production point I’d like to bring up is another example of the complete ineptitude of the MPAA. Home on the Range gets a PG rating! And you want to know why? Because a line Roseann cow says about her utters being ‘real, don’t stare’. That line is somehow worthy of a PG when burning a family alive in a house and singing about lust, rape and murder gets a G for Hunchback? That makes no sense. A cows utters are more offensive to the MPAA than a family almost being burned alive! Let that sink in…
I can’t say it enough don’t listen to the ratings. They are worthless! Do your research and decide for yourself if the movie is for you and your children.
It’s what you get from having an organization police and rate itself. Unbelievable.
The only other production note is it looks a lot like Pecos Bill from Melody Time (1948) which I gave a B+ to and enjoy much more than this). I even wonder if they used some of the red rock backgrounds from Pecos Bill for this movie. It wouldn’t be above the Disney team to do so. They certainly didn’t improve upon 1948 imagery.
From Pecos Bill
From Home on the Range.
As I describe this story I want to remind you- this is the studio who made turning into a llama funny and endearing. Good writing can make any story, no matter how formulaic or strange good. Look at Babe, one of my favorite children’s films of all time. It is about a barnyard in peril but it has such heart and the script is so well written. Here we get nothing new except for a little yodeling.
Basically a cow voiced by Roseann Barr (yes you read right…who thought that was a good idea?) is sold to The Patch O’Heaven farm where all animals are treated like the family. She is an award winning cow who’s master has to sell her because his entire 500 cow fleet has been stolen. She joins 2 other cows, one a cliche of new age niceness voiced by the always great Jennifer Tilly, and proper prim hat wearing Mrs Calloway voiced by Judi Dench (yes Dame Judi Dench is in this thing). Wouldn’t it make more sense for the show cow to be voiced by the Brit? Wouldn’t it make sense for the new girl to be all prim and proper?
Well, the farm owner is Mrs Pearl and she is completely forgettable. (Again think of Babe and how much you love Farmer Hoggett by the end of that movie…). She is behind on her payments and the sheriff is going to auction off the property (how many times have we seen that plot? The whole ‘we have to save the farm, or the orphanage or civic center etc’…snoozefest).
And if things are so bad why does Pearl have the money to buy a prize winning cow and couldn’t she sell it? I get she has attachments to the other animals but she literally just got Maggie (Roseanne Cow). That makes no sense.
But here I am trying to apply sense to a movie about cows saving the day (again can be done well, look at Babe).
There is a nice song sung by KD Lang about the farm.
So off our cows go to save the farm and they have an embarrassing scene in a saloon and then meet Buck a high dreaming horse who wants to be a sheriff (think of Maximus in Tangled. He does the Sheriff horse thing so much better without saying one word). Buck is voiced by Cuba Gooding Jr in an annoying performance, which is obviously trying to be Chris Rock in Madagascar and Eddie Murphy in Shrek and Mulan. It fails. Plus, he is in the movie kind of erratically.
At least to me, it is not funny to have a horse ninja chop a bunch of outlaws. How would he even know how to do that? Why not have him be great with a gun? In a world where horses can fight that makes more sense or a lasso would have been cool. Again Maximus is so much more subtle and funny.
And there is Rico who Buck wants to work with who is an obvious parody of Clint Eastwood but do the kids even know who that is or what it is paying homage too? I hope not because Clint Eastwood westerns are really violent and why not get Clint to do the voice? That would have been entertaining to the adults at least.
He is in the movie sporadically also. Not enough to understand what he is doing or care. Think in the Jungle Book we get very little time with Kaaa but it is enough to find him chilling and to understand who he is as a character.
I will add there are also a lot of toddler level jokes which have also been done with a lot more humor and effect in other films. Things like burping pigs aren’t funny to me…
So, the cows get given to a Chinese man in a strange scene with subtitles and our villain finally comes named Alameda Slim who is obese- how hilarious he’s named slim and is fat! Ha, ha, ha…that’s what goes as humor in this movie!
He is voiced by Randy Quaid and he has the most unusal super power I’ve ever heard of. He can hypnotize cows with his magic yodeling… Again, anything can be good with good writing but this is pushing it.
He has hypnotized herds all over the valley and then when the ranches are destitute like Roseann Cow’s ranch he buys them at auction using the most obvious disguise I’ve ever seen.
In order to buy this scheme you would have to assume that every ranch hand is a complete moron. Plus, cows are big and yet he has them all in a cave. 500 bovines in a cave…that is some cave.
That said, the yodel song was animated pretty well. It’s a copy of Pink Elephants on Parade and Heffalumps and Woozles but since that was a long time ago I’ll let it slide.
The music in general in the movie is pretty good. Alan Menken did the melodies and then there are country/pop stars like KD Lang and Tim McGraw who sing.
I particularly liked Alan Menken’s Aaron Copelanish score. That man can do anything
So basically the last half of Home on the Range is the cows chasing Slim around. At one point they end up on a bad CGI train until they catch him, and spoiler alert win back the farm. Oh and Rico is a double agent but we haven’t gotten to know him, so I really didn’t care.
So, basically this one is a skip. The humor is sophomoric and unoriginal. The storyline is so predicable. The yodeling was an interesting twist but aside from the one song nothing interesting is really done with it.
The backgrounds are pretty and I liked the music but that’s about it. My advice get Melody TIme and watch Pecos Bill. If you do, you will see Roy Rodgers and hear a Western Tale how it is supposed to be told.
Overall Grade- D- (I give it a hair up on Brother Bear because at least I liked the music in this and I did think it was pretty at spots and thought the yodel song was marginally clever but they both suck)
Disney you are killing me here!!!! And just think this was the era of Pixar glory! The Incredibles came out this year for goodness sake! Sigh…
29 thoughts on “Movie 45: Home on the Range”
I like this movie as in I don’t have any negative feelings towards this movie.
To be fair, THOND came out in 1996 and this movie in 2004, so maybe there were different people aboard the MPAA in 1996 as opposed to 2004.
I generally use sites like commonsensemedia.org to determine whether or not a movie has elements that I don’t want to see.
In every era there are ridiculous examples of the MPAA and their ratings choices. Commonsensemedia.org is a great option and I love screenit.com.
I just know too many people who see a movie is R and decide not to see it just because of that. I think the organization is a joke and there is too much motivation to give a movie a commercially acceptable grade when they are policing themselves. It’s like if the restaurant owners were doing health inspections. So yes there are different people on the boards but it is still always made up of members of the Motion Picture Association of America. Any member is going to have motivation to give a big blockbuster like Hunger Games or Dark Knight a PG-13 and be tough on movies like The Kings Speech or Bully.
Even without comparing it to Hunchback the fact an utter line got a PG is insane to me.
Anyway, don’t get me started. I think it is ridiculous.
I’m glad you don’t dislike this movie. Honestly your taste in movies I don’t get but that’s fine. Many of my friends don’t get mine. It’s always fun to hear others opinions that are different from my own so thanks for sharing.
The MPAA is all about politics and I am so happy that ratings board have not ruined the content of books, but I think this does deserve a PG just due to the level of cartoon violence in it. I remember being astounded by the sheer number of comical violent acts in this movie. I even wrote a list of them once, and it was completely ridiculous and unbelievable to read.
I like the movie though mostly because I watched it with my sisters often (they never noticed or cared about the violence). I thought it would be the last hand-drawn Disney movie ever made and I just wanted to make the best of what we had, and find things in it to like. I don’t think this is top-tier Disney, no one can. It’s just featherweight entertainment and I really can’t defend it against what most people say. Chicken Little came out a year later and I blame that for ruining Disney’s name far more than this.
I think your probably right. The story I had always heard is that it was the “they’re real line” that made it PG but the violence could be more a target.
I can see it being fun on the Saturday morning animation level. I just wish the “save the farm” storyline wasnt so tired but the voicecast is fine and the yodeling is clever. It didn’t get an F which Chicken Little did. Would watch this any day over Chicken Little. I was just trying to be witty in my opening, make it sound old west.
It didn’t ruin hand drawn. What ruined it for the moment is Pixar producing one masterpiece after another. Right now everyone is huddled around the CG light bulb because of Pixar and Frozen but all it takes is one big hit and the hand drawn will be back. What I can see is a smaller studio like Liaka has done with stop motion making hand drawn their niche and that’s fine with me. Right now Cartoon Palooza from Ireland is making stunning hand drawn and TV is still hand drawn so the medium is not dead simply because Disney is off of it for the moment. (Many disagree with me on this but I’m optimistic)
I googled it and this did get the PG for “brief mild rude humor”. According to the IMDb trivia the udders line was the sole reason, but I could also see the pigs burping as being included under this. This does bother me, then, because the level of violence really should have been factored in. The family in Hunchback of Notre Dame did not actually burn alive (they were saved by Phoebus due to him somehow jumping through a glass window without collapsing due to blood loss or sustaining any noticeable wounds), but it should have gotten a PG due to Hellfire. The MPAA’s standards really were different in 2004 than they were in 1996, though. Animation Commendation is right about that because basically every Disney movie of the Renaissance got a G, yet Disney movies and other family hits were suddenly being handed a PG left and right in the 2000s and everyone stopped taking the rating seriously (probably a very delayed reaction to what should have happened after PG-13 was created in the 1980s).
Yeah for me the saving them from being burned alive makes it only marginally better. It’s still an incredibly violent act especially with it getting so close.
We may just have to agree to disagree on Hunchback. I’ve explained my issues as well as I can and I completely understand why it appeals to some. It’s just not for me. Nothing wrong with that.
Oh and in another weird Hollywood make 2 movies in the same year. There were actually 2 farm animal movies released in 2004. Barnyard also looks alarmingly awful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqHn_BXOQXs
I often find myself defending this movie…for one, it is not really responsible for Disney shutting down traditional animation. The decision was made when Treasure Planet did so badly (which I also don’t blame, not only was it the second movie Disney released in the same year, they also thought it a good idea to pit it against Harry Potter AND Lord of the Rings, and pulled all the marketing very early). It just happened to be the last movie they released, and yes, it would have been terrible if THAT had been Disney’s final output. And two, despite what some people claim…this is not the worst movie in the canon. Not by a long shot. I see it more along the lines of “The Aristocats” (though less charming and with questionable humour). I think small children can have a lot of fun with this one.
Thus said, the only really good moment is the yodelling scene. I dig that one. Overall I don’t love it, but I also don’t hate it. They were trying.
So, yes, bad, but it doesn’t deserve the hate it gets for supposedly destroying traditional animation – I think even a good movie would have had a hard time to get the audience into the theatres at this point. There were a couple of factors playing into it. More competition, not just by Pixar and DreamWorks, but also by the various movie franchises which were big during this time. All those direct-to-video sequels, which ALSO got a theatrical release towards the end, and which thoroughly destroyed the brand.
I agree. I was being a little cute, tongue in cheek with my intro. Trying to make it all old west. It isnt responsible for the demise of the 2D. I guess it was my attempt at being witty…
That said, I don’t feel like they tried. To me it felt very phoned in. I liked the yodel song animation and the rest of the songs/score ok, so it is a hair better than Brother Bear and Dinosaur but seriously how many movies have done the “their shutting down the farm, orphanage, factory, whatever” so we have to save the day. That is so tired and lazy. It will definitely be in my bottom 10 for sure. I don’t even think it would engage small children very well because a lot of the humor is parodies of western movies they wont have seen. I guess they will like the burping but I expect a little more from Disney.
You seem to think there is a general consensus on the worst movie when every blogger I’ve read has a different bottom 10, so it’s entirely a matter of opinion. I mean some people don’t like Fantasia for goodness sake ;). So far Dinosaur is my worst.
I think Disney was trying to copy Pixar, writing a really crazy story and somehow making it work. They didn’t, sadly.
Yes and Dreamworks with their shouty movies that were so popular at the time.
That’s interesting about opening weekend. I was on my mission in 2004 so I didnt know that. Disney should at least have faith in its products to promote them for more than a weekend (Rescuers Down Under had marketing pulled after 1 week…).
I just think with Babe we see it can be done. You can have a barnyard tale with real heart and good writing (or even Charlotte’s Web I love). This felt like reused screenplays.
Still I did mention a few things I liked. Not an F. 🙂
dreamworks loved the stunt celebrity casting too. I’d rather watch Home on the Range than Dreamworks 2004 entry Shark Tale. That gets a big fat F.
Well, I don’t think it was just the fact that Treasure Planet bombed at the box-office that was the problem. I think it was also the majority of the films that came out during that time period were either bombs or just moderate box-office successes. Of course Home On The Range and Treasure Planet would be in be former category, while Emperor’s New Groove, Fantasia 2000, & Atlantis: The Lost Empire would be in the latter portion. As it is, Dinosaur, Lilo & Stitch, & Brother Bear were the only Disney films that were successful during the Post-Disney Renaissance period. Oh well!
Agree. And we have to consider the risk of 2D animation. They take years to make and so if they are not successful it is a huge problem. The computer animation were making more money and easier to make. Makes sense why they would go in that direction. Fortunately their 2016 entry Moana I hear is going to be 2D!
According to Wikipedia Moana will be a CGI animated musical. In an irrational way I blame myself for seeing Tangled in the theater but not Princess and the Frog. I did this out of the greatest respect, though. As I had never seen any of the classic Disney movies in the theater during first release I wanted my reaction to Princess and the Frog to be colored by what I thought of it on DVD, just because I did look forward to it that much.
But my whole family saw Treasure Planet in the theater and it didn’t stop that from being a box office bomb, so I know I should really stop blaming myself, I just can’t ever since I picked up the morning newspaper reporting Tangled’s massive box office numbers and knew exactly what it meant.
Yeah they changed it from hand drawn to CGI because they wanted to increase the release date by 2 years. Tough to argue with that
Sorry, but I give this one an F even though I liked a couple of the songs in this one too. I liked Brother Bear because at least, for me, that one did have some good things in it even though that one may be one of Disney’s weaker films too. But I respect you liking this better than Brother Bear though.
Let’s be honest we are talking about degrees of awful. I suppose I saw more potential in Brother Bear so it’s choices were so maddening to me. But I can totally see putting Home on the Range lower because it was so phoned in. I don’t feel like they even tried to make a good movie which isnt true for Brother Bear. They did try so there’s that.
I guess when it comes down to it I liked the animation in the yodel sequence and the western score was cool so that was enough for half a grade. But I can completely understand it being an F and when you think of the studio that brought us Snow White, Cinderella and Little Mermaid it is pretty discouraging. Cant wait to be done with this period!
Thanks for reading and sharing
No problem! Oh, by the way, did you know that Home On The Range was originally going to be released in November 2003, while Brother Bwar was going to be released in April 2004. Well, I guess Home On The Range had production problems and so it was announced in December 2002 that they were going to switch the release dates with each other. Interesting, right?
I had heard that. Interesting.
Actually, Moana was originally going to be 2D. However, they decided to make it 3D as well after all since Princess & The Frog wasn’t as successful as Disney had hoped. Thankfully it came close, but still. Yeah, I heard John Musker and Ron Clements were going to use the Paperman hand-drawn technique. However, they decided that it was too early to apply such a technique. So I guess it will be the first 3D Disney animated film that Musker and Clements direct. Oh well! Hand-drawn will hopefully come back sooner or later.
Oh I guess I read something old then. Too bad.
On disney wiki it says it will be hand drawn/computer animation so maybe some combination of both?
Now, that will be cool if that ends up being the case.
While I have zero intentions in watching ‘Home in the Range’ in full, I did listen to the opening song first without animation to let my imagination loose. Then I watched the scene with the animation to see how it compared: it was a let down… That opening song had a quality similar to the “Magnificent Seven” theme, you just want to see cowboys riding across a desert fighting off bandits or escaping Native, heck if “The Lone Ranger” got an animated series it’d make a fine opening song! 😛
But a peg-legged rabbit’s ears being pulled by a turning wheel while he’s trying not to get eaten just did not match the jaunty, spirited style at all! It was probably one of the stupidest introductions to a movie I’d seen in a long time! So yeah, that little experiment did not pan out well.
As for the budget; my guess is that they originally were planning something bigger and more in line with their usual standard of quality, but with funds being withdrawn from the 2D animation department and the bad state of affairs Disney’s leadership was in, constant re-writes and redesigns probably drained the budget away until what was left was this very bare bones storyline with uninteresting animation. Added to the fact that CG animated films like Shrek 2 and The Incredibles were drawing audiences away from Disney Animation, this was just the perfect storm of bad factors that killed the medium for a while. I think until the medium is able to come back and find a solid foothold in some isolated niche in Hollywood, “Home on the Range” will be seen as the “Batman & Robin” of 2D animation.