Steve’s Wonderful Reviews of Disney: Home on the Range

Home on the Range

Release Date: April 2nd, 2004

Inspiration: N/A

Budget: $110 million

Domestic Gross: $50 million

Worldwide Gross: $145.5 million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%

IMDB Score: 5.4/10

Storyline (per IMDB): Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid), a wanted cattle rustler, uses an alias to buy up properties all over western Nebraska, and his next target is the Patch of Heaven dairy farm, where the widow owner cares more for her “family” of yard animals than she does for profit. She just doesn’t have the cash to keep in business or to prevent Slim from taking her farm. The animals, mainly carefree youngsters, are unable to help, however, three cows of very different temperaments rise to the desperate occasion and set out to do battle for their dream home. They team up with the Sheriff’s megalomaniac horse and any other animal who can possibly help, even a crazy lucky rabbit and an invincible buffalo.

Pre-Watching Thoughts: We continue on through the 2000s with another film that I’ve never seen before and to be perfectly honest, my hopes for this one are not too high sadly simply because of how poorly the last few films have done. As I usually do, I am going in optimistic that perhaps the film will surprise me and I will enjoy it very much, and hopefully things start to turn around with this film.

Voice Cast: In the last film, we had practically a whole new batch of actors take part in the film while there were a few returning actors in minor roles, and the same holds true here as we once again have a predominantly new cast. We did have a few actors return including Patrick Warburton who voices Patrick the horse and also Estelle Harris who voices Audrey the chicken, but again these are just minor roles as the new cast take up the main characters. We start off with Roseanne Barr who voices Maggie in one of her few film roles, and then we have Dame Judi Dench who voices Mrs. Caloway in one of her few appearances in an animated film. Next, we have Jennifer Tilly who voices Grace as she was hitting her stride with her career by this point, and then we have Cuba Gooding Jr. who voices Buck as he was also hitting the stride of his career at this point. We then have Randy Quaid who voices Alameda Slim as he was starting to wind down his career by this point, and then we have Charles Dennis who voices Rico in one of his few film roles in his career. Next, we have Charles Haid who voices Lucky Jack as he was also starting to wind down his career as well, and then we have Carole Cook who voices Pearl in one of the last film roles of her career. We then have Joe Flaherty who voices Jeb in his final film role before moving onto a career in teaching, and then we have Steve Buscemi who voices Wesley as he was at the peak of his career at this point. Next, we have Richard Riehle who voices Sheriff Sam Brown as he was hitting his stride in his career at this point, and then we have Lance LeGault who voices Junior in one of his final film roles of his career. We then have G.W. Bailey who voices Rusty as he was starting to wind down his career by this point, and then we have Dennis Weaver who voices Abner in his second-to-last film role as he would pass away two years later. Next, we have Sam J. Levine who voices the Willie Brothers in minor roles and finally we have Ann Richards who voices Annie in one of her few film roles. This was a case where we have a solid number of big stars in a film as opposed to one big name and a few slightly big names, and we will see which way future films are cast as we keep going forward.

Hero/Prince: To be perfectly honest, we have had a recent string of subpar heroes after having some strong ones in the 1990s, and it’s not the complete fault of these last few heroes as they have just not stacked up well. Sadly, that trend does continue here as our hero to talk about is the former prize cow Maggie who is brought to Patch of Heaven to live, and after the animals learn of the farm’s future fate Maggie decides to get them the money with the help of Mrs. Caloway and Grace. They learn that the reward money for the capture of Slim is enough to save the farm so they decide to capture him, and they come across a herd of steers that is captured by Slim though they manage to escape. After some tension between the three, they meet Lucky Jack who leads them to Slim’s hideout and they free the steers though Slim escapes, and they follow him to the farm which he tries to buy in disguise though they expose him and he is captured as Maggie becomes a member of the farm. Maggie is an interesting character in that she has lived the high life as a show cow and is willing to show off to the other animals at the farm, and she is often at odds with Caloway though they eventually become friends. She is loud, bombastic, and slightly obnoxious, but she clearly cares about the farm to the point that she would risk her life to save it, and while she is a fine hero for the film she is probably the weakest hero to this point.

Princess: N/A

Villain: Similar to the heroes of these last few films, the villains have also been pretty tepid and we have seen a major downgrade in the quality of the villains, and that trend doesn’t end here as we have the outlaw cattle rustler Alameda Slim. He travels the countryside stealing cattle from various ranches that he used to work at with the help of his nephews the Willie Brothers, and then he buys the ranches at auction under the alias of Yancy O’Dell to fully complete his revenge on those he feel has wronged him. After stealing close to 5,000 steers, he heads to Patch of Heaven as O’Dell to purchase the farm at auction only for Maggie, Caloway, and Grace to stop him, and they reveal his true identity and he is arrested with the cows receiving the $750 bounty on him. We have had some pretty basic villains to this point and some very memorable ones, but Slim is certainly not memorable at all and is about as basic of a villain as you could get with his only unique feature is being able to yodel and puts cows in a trance. He is possibly one of the worst villains that we’ve had to this point and it will be interesting to see if he ends up being the worst or if there are any others worse than him.

Other Characters: As has become the norm with these films, we have a large group of characters though only a handful of them really play a major role in the film and the rest are just background players. We first have the pair of Mrs. Caloway and Grace who live at the farm with Caloway acting as the leader and Grace who is innocent but simple minded, and when Maggie decides to try and save the farm they go with her. They go off to capture Slim and are nearly captured themselves only for Grace to save them due to her being tone deaf and she is immune to Slim’s yodel, and Caloway ultimately decides to go back to the farm though Grace and Maggie convince her to help when Lucky Jack leads them to the hideout. They rescue the steers and stop Slim from buying the farm as they reveal his identity and are hailed as heroes. We then have Buck the horse who is conceited and selfish as he doesn’t care about the animals or their troubles, and he is chosen by Rico to chase after Slim though he is to be sent back to the Sheriff and he decides to go after Slim himself. He is beaten to the hideout by the cows and after Rico is revealed to be in collusion with Slim, he joins the cows in saving the steers and becomes a hero. Next, we have Rico the bounty hunter who tells the Sheriff that he will capture Slim and he takes Buck with him, but it is revealed that he is in cahoots with Slim and Buck turns on him as he joins the cows in stopping him and the Willie Brothers. We then have Lucky Jack the rabbit who meets the cows and cooks for them as he reveals the hideout of Slim, and he joins the cows and Buck in defeating the Willie Brothers and Rico as well as saving the steers. Jack and Buck then help the cows reach the farm in time to stop Slim and Jack becomes a part of the family. Next, we have Pearl who owns the Patch of Heaven farm and she is threatened with having her farm auctioned off unless she comes up with $750, and during the auction Slim is caught and captured as the cows receive the $750 which they use to save the farm and Pearl welcomes new animals to the farm. We then have Sheriff Sam who is sympathetic to Pearl but has to let her know that her farm is being threatened with auction, and he ends up hosting the auction until the cows reveal Slim out of his disguise and he arrests Slim which leads to the farm receiving the $750 and Pearl being able to save the farm. We then have other minor characters on the farm like Jeb the goat, Audrey the chicken, and the various other animals in the film, and then we have other minor characters like Wesley the evil businessman in business with Slim, Junior the buffalo that guards Slim’s hideout, Rusty the dog who is owned by Sam, Maggie’s former owner Abner, Annie the owner of the saloon, and the Willie Brothers who are the nephews and henchmen of Slim. This was an interesting film in that the majority of the film was focused on three specific characters and the others were either minor or again just background, and again we will see going forward if that trend continues.

Songs: Once again, we have a film where I didn’t thought have any songs in it and instead it does have a few songs in it, and much like the last film the songs mainly take up space in the background as none of the characters sing anything. The first song we have is “(You Ain’t) Home on the Range” sung in the beginning and picked up a bit throughout the film, and it was a fine film to establish the setting of the film. The next song is “Patch of Heaven” which is sung when we arrive at Patch of Heaven and it was a fine film to put over the wholesomeness of the farm, and then we have “Yodel-Adel-Eedle-Idle-Oo” that Slim sings to draw the cattle to him and it is again a fine song as it is rare to hear a villain sing a song. The final song to be sung is “Will the Sun Ever Rise Again?” which is heard during the down point of the film when everything seems to be lost, and it is a fine but somewhat forgettable song. That has been the theme of these last few films where the songs have been fine for their specific films, but in the grand scheme of things they are very forgettable and pale in comparison to the songs of the past.

Plot: We continue the trend of having original stories taken precedent over films being adapted from something else, and to this point the original stories have been slightly off the mark and that looks to continue here with the story of this film. In this film, Maggie is a former show cow who is forced to leave her ranch after the steers were stolen and the ranch went under, and her former owner delivers her to Patch of Heaven though that ranch is also in trouble of going up for auction. Maggie convinces fellow cows Mrs. Caloway and Grace to head into town and convince the sheriff to give them more time, and when they hear that the reward money for Alameda Slim is the exact amount that they need to save the ranch they decide to go after him. They merge themselves into a cattle run that Slim happens upon and he steals all the cattle except for the three cows, and they continue to go after him as well as Buck the horse who wants to capture Slim to make himself a hero. Caloway eventually decides to want to go back home though they come upon Lucky Jack the rabbit who leads them to Slim’s hideout, and they fight back against Slim though he manages to escape thanks to bounty hunter Rico who is in league with him. Buck joins the cows and they take out Rico and Slim’s henchmen while setting the cattle free, and they return to the farm just as Slim attempts to buy it during the auction under a fake name. They expose him and the sheriff arrests him as he gives the reward money to the farm, and they begin to prosper as the animals win 1st prize in the county fair and they are joined by several new animals. Again, the story itself was fine for what it was and it worked for the film, but the story was probably one of the weaker ones to this point and it is just another example of how poorly this film ended up being.

Random Watching Thoughts: We get another special version of the logo as it is used like a branding iron; Lucky Jack wakes up for a brand new day and is immediately met by a wolf; Lucky Jack is not feeling too lucky with everything that is happening to him; I feel like $750 is too low of a reward; I wonder if having Maggie tied to the back of the wagon and being led like that would constitute as cruelty; Lucky Jack is lasting a long time with that snake on his head; I don’t mind having puns as they can be funny at the right times, but I feel like they went overboard on the puns in this film; That was a record time for those eggs to hatch; Pearl and these animals have running this farm down to a t; That rooster is terrible at his job if that chick can crow better than he can; Pearl must have some affection for Mrs. Caloway if she went out of her way to give her a hat; That’s not too nice of Jeb to call the piglets “cocktail wieners”; This is an organic problem and there’s a holistic solution, Grace clearly is the most level-headed animal in that farm; Caloway makes it seem like she is scolding the piglets when she is giving them the can from Jeb much to his frustration; Jeb says he doesn’t have enough cans when he has a large pile right next to him; Abner was spot on in calling Maggie “headstrong”; Miss Happy Heifer; Caloway is such a lady that she has to call Maggie by “Margaret”; Apparently Maggie is also a magician; Caloway clearly likes when everyone is neat and tidy; Sam needs some work in keeping Buck in order while he’s riding him; Pearl was quick to blow off the bank statement until she finds out that her farm will be up for auction if she doesn’t pay in time; They never mention where the farm is, but where would it be if they have blizzards?; Sam seems like he truly cares about Pearl and wants to help her, but she flips out on him when he suggests her selling some of her animals for money; I don’t know why, but for some reason Pearl reminds me of Widow Tweed from “The Fox and the Hound”; So right after I mention about not knowing where the farm is, Maggie mentions Chugwater which I looked up and it is a town in Wyoming so that is where the film is set; Even though Maggie is new to the farm, she is more than willing to step up and save it; It’s a chick thing, as in the chickens doing their thing; Grace clearly has no issues with singing to her heart’s content even though she can’t sing worth a lick; The vultures were premature in thinking that one of them was dying; Caloway says that Buck is a legend in his own mind and we see a glimpse into his mind as he fights off numerous outlaws by himself; So much for their game of tic-tac-toe; Various normal noises going on and the cows think they are under attack; They see a star on the door and think that’s the sheriff only to be revealed as a saloon entrance; The entertainment in that saloon must’ve been really bad if the girls fighting with the cows was the best thing the customers have seen in a long time; Unlike the sheriff who seemed to care about Pearl, Buck could care less about them; That should’ve been some foreshadowing that a storm came through the town as Rico arrived; Sam was describing the horse that Rico needs and Buck shows off his skills, but I guarantee that Sam was going to name another horse had Rico not mentioned Buck; Caloway can only take so much, but when her hat gets messed up that’s when you go over the edge; Rusty goes to the lowest common denominator when he sees Maggie and Caloway fight in the mud; That is weird that they just happen to walk past the farm where Maggie used to live; Mr. Y. O’Dell Esq.; Those steers must not have seen many dairy cows for a long time if they are so smitten with Maggie, Caloway, and Grace; How many cattle rustlers can yodel like Slim can?; Of course Grace would be the only one that isn’t hypnotized by Slim since she is tone-deaf; Whoever worked on this film must’ve been influenced by the “Pink Elephants on Parade” scene from Dumbo to do the scene with Slim rounding up the cattle like they did; Slim just happened to find a boulder that perfectly fits in the space to close off the pathway; Of course Grace would think her pitch is perfect; Buck shows off in front of the cows and Rico believes that he is scared of the cows; Buck clearly thinks lowly of the cows yet Grace is willing to let him join them in chasing down Slim; Again, Buck only cares about himself as he wants to prove himself as a hero by catching Slim yet shows no compassion for the cows and is willing to see them lose their farm; Slim has come up with quite the elaborate plan to get revenge on those that he thinks wronged him; That one brother’s head just happens to match the exact land formation that Patch of Heaven has; Slight error here as they have September 24th on a Thursday, but in reality that day in 1889 actually fell on a Tuesday; Buy one, get three free; That is a dick move by Buck; Of course it would start raining which clears away the tracks; You would’ve thought the Great Flood was happening with how much rain was coming down and the cows got caught up in the flood; Caloway was pretty harsh considering it wasn’t Maggie’s choice to go to their farm and then she wanted to help save the farm; Maggie went from being completely apart from Caloway only to end up sleeping next to her; Of all the places to see before you die, you have that strong a desire to see Utah?; It’s not often you see a rabbit with a peg leg; He slices and dices up that scorpion like a chef would do to a piece of meat or fish; Jack kicks at a picture of Slim only to hurt himself on the cactus; The Willie Brothers are clearly not too bright if anytime Slim puts on a hat and pair of glasses, they think he’s a completely different person; Black market livestock; Wesley sure pays top dollar for the cattle; Buck tries to befriend the cows now since they can help him get in, but they see right through him and he is forced to stay out; The buffalo looks like the bouncer of a club; Once again, Buck being manipulative by causing the horse to run away so he can be with Rico again; Slim should’ve realized it wasn’t smart to count the money while the brothers are taking count of the steers; Grace comes up with the idea to use Jack’s tail as makeshift earplugs for Caloway; Would clown college have really been any better for Wesley?; That buffalo is super tough to have survived a fall like that; I feel like the animators were also inspired by “Temple of Doom” with the chase down the mineshaft; How much dynamite did Slim really need?; I can’t believe those three cows were able to stop a moving train even though it was braking; It’s only after he realizes that Rico was in league with Slim that Buck comes to realize that he was in the wrong and decides to do the right thing by helping the cows; Caloway went psycho when Maggie dropped her hat out of the train; Those two steers trying to chase after the train to court the cows; Leave it to Buck to use Jack’s peg leg to flip the switch to save the train; How does Sam not hear that a train is barreling down behind him yet he still tries to auction off the chicks?; Slim nearly gets the better of them again until Grace knocks the bell into his mouth; Maggie was already to keep her end of the bargain and leave until she heard the nice things said about her and she decides to stay; Maggie wasn’t lying when she said that they could all win at the county fair; After all that, Caloway finally decides to let Maggie wear her hat.

Overall Thoughts: Overall, this has to be the worst film in the Disney canon to this point and it wasn’t even close, and we have had some pretty bad films to this point though this is arguably the worst to this point. I know that the films from the 2000s don’t have a stellar reputation and I always go into this films with a positive outlook even though I haven’t seen any of them, but to this point most of them have not changed my initial outlook on them which is really sad. You can call me nostalgic for the older films because I have more love for them than these films, but a few of the films that I’ve not seen before have pleasantly surprised me and I’m hoping that the upcoming films can improve from here. As for this film, it is the worst film in the Disney canon to this point and it will be interesting to see if anything ends up being worse than this.

Final Grade: 2.5/10