51 Days of Disney (Day 45): Home on the Range

Here it is, the first of the two movies that I really did not look forward to watching, the first genuinely bad Disney film: Home on the Range.

Maggie (Roseanne Barr) is the last cow remaining at the Dixon Ranch after Alamida Slim stole all of the rest of the cattle. Dixon can no longer afford to keep Maggie, so he sells her to the Little Patch of Heaven Ranch. Mrs. Calloway (Judi Dench) and Grace (Jennifer Tilly) welcome the newcomer, but she insists on showing off to the younger animals, much to the dismay of some of the older ones. The local sheriff and his horse, Buck (Cuba Gooding Jr.), arrives at Patch of Heaven to tell Pearl, the owner, that the bank is going to take her farm away if she doesn’t have the money to pay off her debt in 3 days. Maggie decides that they should go to the fair in order for Maggie, who is a show cow, to win a contest to get the money to save the ranch.

When the cows reach the town, Rico the bounty hunter (Randy Quaid) rides in and takes the bounty on Alamida Slim and decides to take Buck with him as his new horse. The three cows also chase after Slim in order to use the $750 reward to save the ranch. Maggie, Calloway, and Grace eventually find Slim and Maggie and Calloway get caught up in his hypnotic yodeling, but Grace saves and accidentally stops Rico from catching Alamida Slim. Rico exchanges Buck for a different horse when he thinks that Buck is skittish around cattle.

It turns out that Alamida Slim is stealing all of the cattle in order to buy up the land, and one of his idiot nephews (who are also his henchmen) has been managing to block Patch of Heaven for the entire time. Now Slim is dead set on getting the ranch in order to finish his collection in an attempt to get revenge on all of the ranches he worked on because they didn’t like his yodeling.

I’m not kidding.

Screw this movie.

The cows have a fight and decide that they’re going to split up and go their own way, but stop when they meet up with Lucky Jack, a rabbit with a peg leg, who leads them to Slim’s mine hideout. Slim has been selling his cows to a black market cattle salesmen named Wesley (Steve Buschemi in a very poor career move) in order to buy the land.

At this point, I would usually say something that leaves the ending of the film rather ambiguous, but seriously, screw this movie.

The cows catch Slim, but Buck ruins the plan while trying to take the glory for himself after tricking his replacement (played by Patrick Warburton) into going back into town. There is a long Benny-hill style chase sequence through the mines and it is revealed that Rico works for Slim and Slim leaves to buy Little Patch of Heaven after catching the cows and loading them into the train. Buck sets them free and stops Rico. The cows use the train to catch Alamida Slim, the day is saved, and Slim would have gotten away with it if not for those meddling cows.

I wish they actually would have said that, as it would have made that part of the movie actually funny, but that would make this movie somewhat good.

One of the biggest problem with Home on the Range is that is just isn’t funny. It tries it’s hardest to be funny, but it all feels very forced and usually rather annoying. There are very few jokes in the movie that even made me smirk, let alone actually laugh. The other major problem is that it is dramatically unsubtle. The writing for the movie makes every character essentially say “THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I AM GOING TO DO” and then they go do it. The writers, Will Finn and John Sanford, need to learn about the good writing process of showing and not telling. Exposition man is okay in some situations, but it is always better to show what happens rather than just talk about it.

The worst part of this movie is that there are actually some good things about it. The animation is good, as it should considering that Disney said that this was going to be the last hand drawn animated film made by the sudio, there are some fun parts to watch in the movie, and the voice acting is very well done. The music was written by Alan Menken and the songs were written by Glenn Slater, whom Menken would team up with again on a very, very, very good Disney film, and it’s easily the best part of this god-awful film. Honestly, this film feels like it exsists purely to troll me. There are so many things in there that should make me like it (Dame Judi Dench, Steve Buschemi, Patrick Warburton, Jennifer Tilly, a score by Alan Menken, animation by Disney) that the fact that I don’t like it feels like a massive prank done specifically to make me angry.

Action movies can pull off the lack of a story because there is enough of a story there to tie the real reason you are there to see the film, the action scenes. Comedies that are genuinely funny can pull off a weak story because the jokes are strong and make up for the weakness. Home on the Range doesn’t have any of these things, so the pointless story has nothing to make up for it.

This movie is bad. Really bad. Apparently, Chicken Little is worse. I feel like I’m going to need alcohol to get through that movie.


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