Monday, October 10, 2011

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 45: Home on the Range

Series Intro: This is Part 45 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: Home on the Range
Release: April 2, 2004 (side note: I turned 20 that day). This date also broke away from either a Christmas or Summer release
Running Time: 76 minutes (short!)
Estimated Cost: $110 million
Estimated Revenue: $103.95 million
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Maggie, a show cow, voiced by Roseanne, has to leave her home after all the cattle are stolen and the farm has to go up for auction. She is sold to a neighboring farm, A Little Patch of Heaven. No sooner then when Maggie arrive does the sheriff tell Patch of Heaven’s owner that the mortgage must be paid up, a whole $750.
Maggie convinces the other cows on the farm, Grace and Mrs. Calloway, to go into town and ask for an extension on the mortgage so all the animals can enter contests at the fair. No extension can be given, so Maggie decides that the cows should capture cattle thief Slim (the same man who stole Maggie’s friends) and use the money to pay the mortgage. Reluctantly, bossy Mrs. Calloway and dim-witted Grace agree.
Their misadventure begin and along the way they meet a thick headed horse, Buck, and a wooden-legged rabbit, Lucky Jack.
The cows discover that Slim can yodel, which is intoxicating to all cow except Grace (she believes this is because she has perfect pitch, however the other cows and the audience know that she is tone deaf). They use this fact to their advantage during the big fight scene between the cows and Slim.
The fight goes down as planned, except Buck ruins things, and Slim escapes to buy Piece of Heaven. However, just as he is about to sign the deed, the cows come home on a run away train and capture him, collect the reward and save the farm.
Mrs. Calloway tells Grace how great Maggie has been, and wishes she could stay – despite Mrs. Calloway and Maggie being at odds throughout the movie. Maggie hears this and decides to stay.
In the epilogue, all the animals won 1st place at the fair, thus giving Piece of Heaven a buffer of money comfort zone.

So nice to have a musical again (though this was more like Tarzan in the way of most of the music was sung by a narrator.
(You Ain't) Home On The Range - Chorus
Little Patch of Heaven - k.d. lang
Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo - Randy Quaid and Chorus
Will The Sun Ever Shine Again - Bonnie Raitt
(You Ain't) Home On The Range - Echo Mine Reprise - Chorus
Wherever The Trail May Lead - Tim McGraw
Anytime You Need A Friend - The Beu Sisters

The music was very reminiscent of old west. Great job to Alan Menken (of Little Mermaid) for breaking out of the musical theatre genre.

Plot Rating: 4 stars out of 5
This was a great story. As I’ve said before, the buddy movies usually have wonderful plot and a good story to tell. This really broke the mold of buddy movies by having all three leads be female.
The only thing I didn’t like about the plot was how Maggie was so gun-ho about saving Little Piece of Heaven, when she was there only after one day. What did she do to try to save her farm? (Watching the behind the scene answered my question. Originally, Maggie was supposed be part of the Piece of Heaven farm, but the story people decided they wanted her to be the new girl, to give Mrs. Calloway more reasons not to trust her. The movie was about half finished when they made this choice, and there are scenes where you can see the gaps of where Maggie was/would have been).

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5
Beautiful. This film evoked feelings of the West, with it’s colors and lines. It even looked like previous Walt cartoons about the same period. Not much CG stood out, meaning it blended nicely in with the matted colors and simple designs.
This was the last WDAS film to use the CPAS system first used in The Rescuers

The Test of Time:
Nothing. This movie sits with other forgotten movies. The only reason I can guess, is because it’s about cows. That was my hesitation about this movie. Who wants to watch a movie about cows?
If it had done better in the box office, I could imagine seeing Maggie, Mrs. Calloway and Grace as staples in Frontierland in the Disney Parks.

Through the Modern Lens
Marketed as the LAST hand drawn animated film, WDAS did leave on a bang. Granted, it wasn’t the scope of a Beauty and the Beast but a great film. However, we know that this was not the last hand drawn film. After three movies, WDAS returned to hand drawn for Princess and the Frog
Also note, this was the last WDAS movie to be released on VHS.

Next Up:
Chicken Little

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