Home on the Range
Disney is just going through the motions with this farm flick, but there's a chuckle or two to be had.
For a while now, there have been two classes of Disney cartoons. There are the top-shelf, blockbuster extravaganzas, like Lion King and Mulan. Then there are the lightweight, fun, take-it-or-leave-it baubles like The Emperor's New Groove and Hercules. The House of Mouse doesn't take these big-screen quickies too seriously, and if you adjust your expectations accordingly, you'll find them at least a fair way to spend 90 minutes at the mall.
Home on the Range is a Disney quickie. Or at least, I hope so. And since it doesn't promise much, I suppose it delivers. There are a couple of brilliant scenes, and a few witty one-liners, but most adults will be just be sitting through this one to keep the kids happy.
The lack of effort is most painfully evident as the plot unfolds. The story, such as it is, is explained so pedantically, you can almost see the storyboard panels and scribbled arrows pointing the way. And the voiceovers only make it worse. Farmer and animals evicted. Cow sold to another farm. Second farm also threatened with eviction. What will the animals do? Proceed to page three.
And Disney's decision to cast Roseanne Barr as the lead celebrity voice in Home on the Range is either genius or an inexplicable misstep. Sure, she's a cow, but on the other hand, her voice ranks just below that of Gilbert Gottfried in the "psychological torture" department.
That said, there were a few funny scenes. Sure, many of them were funny because they were parodies or self-consciously poking fun at the movie itself, and easily half of them had already been served up in movie trailers, but a laugh is a laugh.
Perhaps moreso than with any other animated film in recent memory, I found myself focusing on and enjoying the voice talent. Sure, every cartoon needs a celebrity or two at the microphone, but most of the time you don't notice. With Home on the Range, the movie became a "who's that voice" trivia contest. And to that end, Home on the Range doesn't disappoint.
Roseanne aside, there was a lot of good stuff to hear. Steve Buscemi was impossible to miss, and of course his character was drawn as a perfect caricature. Judi Dench also voices a human, though I doubt she'll get an Oscar for this role. Estelle Harris, also known as George Costanza's mom on Seinfeld, makes a perfect chicken. Jennifer Tilly shined as a ditzy bovine, and the great Patrick Warburton is wasted in tragically few scenes.
Cuba Gooding Jr., I think, was the other lead star of Home on the Range, but he didn't really bring much to the flick... besides a little color.
Home on the Range might be worth a mall matinee, but otherwise, I'd wait for it to be broadcast on ABC, probably sooner rather than later.
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© 1997-2008 Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org · Created: 23 April 2004 · Last Modified: 14 January 2008