out of Five
Running time: 76
Likeable, fast-paced animation with some good gags and that cinematic rarity: a decent Cuba Gooding Jnr performance.
Home on the Range is a traditionally animated 2-D cartoon adventure and, if the publicity department at the House of Mouse are to be believed, it’s set to be the last of its kind as they’ll be concentrating on Finding Nemo-type 3-D toons from now on. Frankly, this seems unlikely, especially if Home on the Range turns out to be a decent-sized hit.
Cows Attempt To Save Farm
Following in the modern tradition of casting recognisable celebrity voices, Home on the Range stars Judi Dench, Roseanne Barr and Jennifer Tilly as our heroic bovine trio. Happy to rule the roost on the Patch Of Heaven farm, the cows get a shock when the bank threatens foreclosure on their home.
The owner, Pearl, refuses to sell the cows (because they’re faaaaamily, see?) but then bossy new cow Maggie (Barr) gets an idea and our heroes set off to capture notorious yodelling rustler Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid), in order to collect the reward and save the farm. They’re joined in their quest by Buck (Gooding Jnr), an excitable horse with some surprisingly nifty kung fu moves.
Vocal Cast Superb
The vocal cast are all superb: Barr and Dench are a bizarre combination but one that works brilliantly. (In fact, the casting provides a level of enjoyment that will go over the kids’ heads, because it’s hard not to imagine Dench, Barr and Tilly recording their lines together and wonder whether they all went out for beers afterwards.)
As for Cuba Gooding Jnr, it’s a relief to sit through one of his over-excitable performances and not have to watch his constant mugging – as such, he’s perfectly cast. There’s also strong support from Steve Buscemi (as Wesley) and Randy Quaid makes a splendid villain.
The film is very fast-paced and manages to pack a lot of Western staples into its short running time: saloon bars, mines, impressive desert landscapes, trains and so on. The script crackles with decent one-liners and there are also several laugh-out-loud sight gags - after all, you would have to pretty hard-hearted not to laugh at a horse doing kung fu.
This being a Disney cartoon involving talking animals there are the inevitable songs dotted throughout the movie. These are, for the most part, entirely forgettable, although Alameda Slim’s yodelling numbers are bound to raise a few laughs.
In short, Home on the Range won’t be troubling the box office records of Toy Story or Finding Nemo but it’s an enjoyable cartoon that’s both simple enough for younger children to enjoy and funny enough for adults not to resent being dragged to see it. Worth seeing.