My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that it is stupid, over the top, unengaging, and a heartless film that has no substance. This is an issue because the characters are hard to invest in because of their lack of substance, and the same can be said about the setting and plot. The jokes and slapstick take up more time than the story does in the film. While not the absolute worst, it is in the bottom barrel of the canon.
The film was pitched by Will Finn and John Sanford as an adaption of the Pied Piper story, and Maggie the cow was supposed to be a deaf girl, but Michael Eisner did not like that idea, since no one would have wanted to see a movie with children being murdered
no one wanted to see Disney make a movie that ruins the DreamWorks formula worse than that company does either. The film was initially called Sweating Bullets in the early 2000s, and was initially supposed to be released in late 2003, but it switched release dates with Brother Bear (which was initially released in Spring 2004), because this film was going through development hell, as they tried to make this film appeal to a dumber wider audience.
The film starts with a song called Home on the Range, which is shows the Wild West, and a bunch of animals getting one another. We also see that our villain Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid) is a wanted man. We get an introduction of Maggie the cow (Roseanne Barr), who explains that she is out of a home because of Alameda Slim and his nephews stealing all of the cows, except her (as she was inside the barn, with all the other cows outside). Her owner has to sell her and the farm, and she is being sold to Pearl (Carole Cook), who owns Patch of Heavens Farm. Maggie also makes an infamously awful joke about her udders being real…….first off, no one was looking at them, and second, the THOUGHT of cows having a boob job is not only gross, but stupid and weird. When we get to the song Patch of Heavens, we see the woman dancing with her animals, and it is overly happy and obnoxious with how happy they are.
Another cow named Mrs. Calloway (Judi Dench) is not about a show cow being at the farm. Sam the Sheriff (Richard Riehle) and his obnoxious horse Buck (Cuba Gooding Jr) shows up to the farm and tells Pearl that she owes the bank $750, and needs to pay them back in 3 days, or she will lose the farm. She brushes it off at first like it is nothing, and we are suddenly supposed to feel bad for her.
How about you pay your bills like you are supposed to do, instead of whining about the banks eventually getting their money. Anyways, when he tells her she should sell some of her cows, she loses it and tells him to get off her property.
Since Maggie is for SOME REASON more invested in saving the farm (that she just got to 5 minutes ago) than the others, she tells them that they need to go to town to convince them to give Pearl more time, and in 2 weeks, they will enter a county fair and win the money, and they all go with the idea but Calloway, who is angered at Maggie. Maggie and Grace (Jennifer Tilly) decide to go to town, and Calloway only follows because the chicks make her feel bad about not going.
So we get a filler scene of Buck running around and trying (but of course failing) to entertain us, and the three cows going into a bar (confusing it for the sheriff’s office). We get to see some more failed comedy, and when the town hero Rico (Charles Dennis) comes to the sheriff to replace his horse with Buck, and to take on the reward of capturing Alameda Slim, the cows are overjoyed when they find out that the reward is $750 (just like Pearl’s debt). How convenient. Again, HOW IN THE HELL ARE COWS SUPPOSED TO GET A REWARD FROM HUMANS?
So the sheriff gives the cows to a chinese man who so happens to pass along, and they are tied up to the back of his carriage. Thy pass through Maggie’s old farm, and we are supposed to feel bad for her because her entire family was taken from her. Here is the issue with that: ALL of the characters but Pearl and the Sheriff are used as comic relief, and we NEVER saw Maggie interact with her other animals that were taken away and to see her in her old farm to garner sympathy. She is just too unfunny and over the top (just like the entire film is).
They escape to only be seen again by Buck, who goes ON AND ON about him and Rico being partners and the good guys, and pretending to do karate, which causes Rico to ditch him
too damn bad we cannot ditch this movie and Buck like Rico did. We then learn that Alameda did not become a realtor because of his yodeling (go fucking figure), so he decided to use it to kidnap all of their farms, and to make all of them bankrupt. Oh, and it is also a trigger point to him when you call his yodeling singing. He then realizes that Patch of Heavens is the final place to attack, and is happier because it is going on sale on Thursday (in 2 days I believe?).
They are following Buck’s footsteps to track down Alameda, but the arrogant horse runs around so they cannot follow his track, and when the rain erases the tracks, and there is a rainstorm, Calloway is upset at Maggie for dragging them out here, and we are now at the scene where everyone is down, has no hope, and wants to go their separate ways.
We have a montage song of Will The Sun Ever Shine Again, which shows everyone being sad, and at their lowest point. The thing is, they established the setting poorly and everything has no substance, so we cannot feel invested in their pain or bad for them.
So of course Maggie and Calloway reunite after their shouting match the previous night, and they follow a rabbit called Lucky Jack (Charles Haid) to go to Alameda’s place. A buffalo is the guard, and the cows easily pass by, but Buck (who has been ditched) is not let by because he is not a cow or with a cow. So Slim and his nephews are counting their money and the cows, and we learn that Slim steals the cows, to sell them off, and uses the money from selling the cows to buy the properties of the farms. Slim and crew escapes the cows and takes the train outside, where they are going to get to Patch of Heavens to. Alameda makes it to buy the Patch of Heavens, and HOLD IT. It has only been 2 days since the film started, but they told her that the farm will be sold off in 3 days. It has not been 3 days, but they need to get their weak plot over with.
So Buck switches sides after his hero Rico is revealed to work for Alameda, and he cows go on the train, and stops Slim from signing the official contract. He tries to yodel to get the cows to leave him alone, but Grace kicks a bell in his mouth, and he is arrested. The money is given to them, the ladies get some male lovers (the 2 cows from before, and the buffalo) and they save their farm,. and dance happily, as the movie is closed off with the Little Patch of Heaven song.
The characters are ALL flat, generic, characters, who are mostly ALL (including our three ladies) used as comic relief more so than a character that we need to invest into. It is hard to take or characters seriously and invest into characters (and see them as characters instead of plot points) when they are not seen seriously, and are duller than dish soap.
The animation is………….not bad, but not…………appealing. The designs for the cows are overly pointy and sharp, making them look very rigid, and the CGI sticks out like a sore thumb in this film, and the animation seems very…..small. The colors are nice, and it can be fluid at times. I have seen a lot better and a lot worse.
The music is…….decent at best. I will say that the score is good (at best), and the opening song is a great opening song, but the yodeling song and some of the other ones are so forgettable. Nothing special about it, and it is kind of generic. None of them made me cringe other than that yodeling song.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on April 2nd, 2004, the film made $50,026,353 domestically, and $76,482,461 overseas, with a total amount of $103,951,461. That is an atrocious box office total all on it’s own, but it is even more troublesome because it had a budget of $110 million dollars, meaning that it flopped; by a decent amount. This is the 5th flop in this era, after Fantasia 2000, The Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and Treasure Planet.
Today, this film is seen to most of the fandom as the worst film in the canon, and if not the worst, one of the worst. It gets the blame a lot for ending traditional animation in WDAS, and making WDAS officially hit rock bottom, and reached DreamWorks and Blue Sky levels. It gets a lot of hear for being anti Disney and being overly painful to watch. I don’t think this movie has any fans whatsoever. Disney never mentioned this film again since 2004, and for good reason.
= 23/40 = 58%
16 thoughts on “Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: Home on the Range”
Yeah, I remember being taken to the theaters to see this film when I was about 10 or 11 and I didn’t like it at all. It was NOT what I was expecting from Disney. Bottom 5 for sure.
So, if this film isn’t THE worst in the Disney canon to you, which film is it? Dinosaur? Brother Bear? Or the next film that you’ve had the displeasure of watching, Chicken Little?
Oh my goodness. I feel bad for you that you actually had to endure this in the theatres.
You will find out soon which one I think is the worst film.
Idk, I kinda like the design. I think it looks unique, like how Pocahontas looks, but more angular and rigid. But just me…. I also like the vibrant animation. I think they did a pretty good jib with the animation overall.
And I actually love the opening song. Like, love it. Alan Menken is a god after all. But everything else just ugh.
And they ruined an adaptation with a huge potential. I mean, u can make an amazing film with Pied Piper. Ugh I hate Eisner soooo much.
And despite being called the Dakr Age, the Black Cauldron era is not the worst. The post renaissance is. 5 flops, several have terrible reviews, destruction of a beloved medium, wasting potential projects and adaptations, over the top DreamWorks humor. The absolute worst of Disney. Ever.
I just found the music and the animation to be overly simple. Not the worst, but certainly not the best.
I don’t know too much about the adaption.
I agree wholeheartedly that the Post Renaissance is the worst era in the canon. You can kind of count Robinsoms for a flop if you want to. Many critical and financial flops, and there was little to no effort in what needed to be focused on in these films; story, characters, enjoyment, and heart.
The one exception to that era I think was Lilo and Stitch. If they had only made more films like that, films with a smaller budget that would force them to come up with a good story and characters and also not have much executive meddling, the era might have been different for the better. But alas, no.
I admit, I like the yodelling sequence…the only moment in the movie I really like, but that one is kind of fun, simply because it is so unexpected. Also the design…it looks deceptively simple, but it isn’t, not really, and it really fits the story they try to tell.
In the end there are other movies I dislike more. Bad…yes…the worst…no.
Eisner is an idiot.
The yodelling scene only made me roll my eyes constantly, but to each their own.
Eisner is an idiot, and it is a good thing that they forced him out of the company soon after this film.
This movie is awful. The puns are terrible. I didn’t think the score was that bad and I liked the yodeling song animation but it’s bad. The whole ‘save the farm’ premise is so tired and the western satire doesn’t work.
Out of all the Disney movies I’ve seen, this one is my least favorite. The characters, as you said, are totally uninteresting, and the humor is some of the worst I’ve seen in the canon. The opening song is nice, but the rest of the music isn’t even that memorable, to me at least. The only thing that’s even half-way decent is the animation, IMO.
Saw this movie today. I liked itas a child, actually – cute animals and all. But now I see it is really, really, really mediocre. Well, the animation is good, and so is the sountrack, but they aren’t outstanding by any means. The design of Alameda’s nephews was an eyesore… And the characters were annoying. Not as obnoxious as Buck though – I genuinely liked the part where the cows refuse to help him get into Slim’s hideaway.
The cows… Well, they’re OK. Maggie is vulgar, I hate Mrs. Calloway’s hat gag, these two’s physical struggles and Grace… Her “superpower” doesn’t make sense – but then again, neither does the villain’s in the first place. All three had potential, but the end resulting is like watching Flora, Fauna and Merryweather wannabes (really, that’s the perfect way to describe them, imo).
The slapstick humor is terribly executed. But the worst – and well, also the best, really – about this movie is that it doesn’t feel like Disney.
I didn’t even realize it was based on the Pied Piper tale. An adaptation with humans, a bit more faithful to the source (but it could have a happy ending) would have been so much better. Well, the good thing is that the relationship between it and this film are so remote, that there is still hope one day Disney might make a proper adaptation.
Actually, in the mid-1990s after Pocahontas, Mike Gabriel pitched Sweatin’ Bullets but in October 2000, he was removed from the project due to persistent story problems. This means in the blog, “The Downfall of the Disney Renaissance/Beginning of the Post-Renaissance era”, I think you should’ve mentioned about it’s production before Mike Gabriel was replaced with Will Finn and John Sanford.