Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Home on the Range


Sometimes I wonder, “What were they thinking?” There’s not a lot on offer here in this very un-Disney feature. Three cows (Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench—Judi Dench?!—and Jennifer Tilly) set out to find big bad cattle rustler Alameda Slim to bring him to justice and save the ranch. That’s it as far as story goes. The visual style owes more to Hanna-Barbera stuff like Yogi Bear than to Disney, with Monument Valley backgrounds stolen from the Warner Brothers Road Runner cartoons. There’s a little of the style of “Pecos Bill” and a little of the classic little short “Pigs is Pigs.” Everything is angular and simplified. Which worked for a short, but gets a little tedious here. The other barnyard critters are rather boring, taken right off the shelf without much to make them interesting. The human hero, a tall, whispering Clint Eastwood type, is funny for a little while. The best thing is probably Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid), who is such a ferocious yodeler that he can hypnotize cattle and cause them to follow him, a sort of Pied Piper of livestock. There are some visual effects during his big number that are pretty good, very colorful. But mostly this is a knockabout slapstick featurette drawn out to barely feature length (75 minutes including long credits). It was a major box office bomb and probably deserved to be. Its failure shut down the Orlando animation studio and Disney pulled back to Burbank and settled in for a long run of all-CGI features for a while. Which, if you want my opinion, is not really where they shine, but may be the inevitable wave of the future.