Judge Lacey Worrell is such a city slicker that she always thought "cow tipping" meant rewarding helpful bovines with dollar bills, but she still enjoyed this down-home animated family film.
A little patch of heaven.
As was its predecessor, Brother Bear, Disney's Home on the Range was unfairly ignored at the box office. This animated Western is, at the risk of using a tired cliché, fun for the entire family.
Facts of the Case
Maggie the Cow (Roseanne Barr) comes to live on the Patch of Heaven dairy farm with a motley assortment of animals, including an old billy goat and a collection of chickens. When a threatened takeover jeopardizes the future of the ranch, Maggie and her two bovine pals set out to save it and set their owner's mind at ease.
Award-winning composer Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast) contributes the songs and score, and the formidable cast of voice talents includes Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Radio), Jennifer Tilly (Monsters, Inc.), Dame Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love), Randy Quaid (Christmas Vacation), and Steve Buscemi (Fargo).
Home on the Range is, quite simply, a good old-fashioned Western. It offers plenty of adventure, unscrupulous cattle rustlers, and musical numbers reminiscent of the classic film version of Oklahoma!. Alan Menken's new songs add just the right touch and are voiced by talented singers such as k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, and Tim McGraw. Listen to k.d. lang croon the retro-tinged "A Little Patch of Heaven," and revel in her buttery-smooth voice.
This is a film parents will enjoy watching with their children, because there are just enough inside jokes and adult humor to keep the story interesting. Kids from preschool age to preteens will also be entertained, making this film a solid investment.
I've loved Roseanne since her stand-up comedy days, and she is wonderful as the brassy Maggie. Love her or hate her, Roseanne is a talented woman who should be getting more work than she does these days. Jennifer Tilly's voice is also instantly recognizable as a hysterically funny cow obsessed with organic living; it's a gentle poke in the ribs at all the naturalists out there. Dench's presence is an interesting, demure contrast to Roseanne's, and they complement each other quite well.
When it comes to DVD releases, Disney remains the gold standard of family entertainment. Like its more popular predecessor, Lilo and Stitch, Home on the Range has plenty of extras, such as a bonus short film, games, deleted scenes, and a pop music video, to keep the kiddies happy for hours. Despite the popularity of computer-generated instant classics like Finding Nemo, I maintain a certain fondness for old-fashioned, hand-drawn animation. The picture and sound, crisp colors, and attention to background detail on Home on the Range are breathtaking.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Okay, okay, so it's not a fairy tale, which has always been Disney's hallmark. But haven't you had enough of the Disney Princesses already? Parents should take note that, like Lilo and Stitch, this film has a PG rating; there is some very mild violence and the villains are slightly scary. Compared to what your kids are probably watching on afternoon television, though, it's tame.
Home on the Range, as well as its companion Sing-Along-Songs disc (sold separately), is a solid investment. Home on the Range should have received more attention upon its theatrical release, but here's hoping it enjoys a long, satisfying life on the sales and rental market.
Home on the Range is acquitted on all charges, with the apologies of the court.
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