The “Patch of Heaven” farm is about to be seized by the bank, unless $750.00 can be raised,and raised quickly. By lucky coincidence, that is precisely the reward being offered for thecapture of cattle rustler Alameda Slim. Three plucky cows (voiced by Roseanne Barr, Judi Denchand Jennifer Tilly) decide to capture Slim and win the reward, thus saving their home.
The opening moments, with a series of Tex Avery-style catastrophes befalling an unfortunaterabbit, are ver… promising. Here and there are other patches of inspiration, such as when Slimreveals that his foolproof secret for stealing cattle is to hypnotize them by yodelling (leading intoone of the stronger musical numbers). Unfortunately, in between are long stretches of flatstorytelling and dull jokes. Roseanne Barr is as annoying a presence as a voice artist as she is anactor, and Cuba Gooding Jr.’s horse character is a pale imitation of Eddie Murphy’s work onMulan and Shrek. There aren’t enough bones tossed to adults, and the two kids Iwas screening this with were bored out of the room in five minutes flat.
The sound does full justice to the score (and there are some pretty good, funny songs here,other problems notwithstanding). The surround elements are almost entirely dominated by themusic, which itself is almost constant. There some sound effects, but they are generally prettylow key, always taking back seat to the score. The sound is perfectly clear and undistorted.
The video is beyond reproach, at least as far as the colours and sharpness are concerned. Thecolours are gorgeous, bright and solid, with dead-on contrasts, and there is no grain whatsoever.What is a bit suspect is the ratio. The film is presented in “family-friendly” 1.66:1 anamorphic(except during a fantasy sequence that imitates the Spaghetti Westerns, and here the aspect shiftsto 2.35:1 in one of the film’s better jokes).
As one has come to expect with Disney releases, the extras are a real mix, addressing bothvery young and older viewers. For the adults there’s a commentary by producer Alice Dewey andco-directors John Sanford and Will Finn. This, along with “Trailblazers: The Making of Homeon the Range” and “Art Review” (narrated by art director David Cutler and background paintingdirector Christy Maltese), provides plenty of behind-the-scenes information. Similarly, there arefour deleted scenes (with introduction). For the younger viewers, there’s the “Anytime You Needa Friend” music video and two types of games and activities. The Joke Corral has the maincharacters appearing from behind doors, Hee-Haw style, to tell jokes. “Yodel Mania” offers ayodel memory game, a cartoon documentary about yodelling, and a yodel-maker game for DVD-ROM (exactly how one triggers the game was not immediately obvious, however). For all ages,there’s a new cartoono short: “A Dairy Tale: The Three Little Pigs.” There are also plenty of adsfor other Disney DVDs. The menu has a very long intro (which can be skipped) and is fullyanimated and scored (though it has no transitions).
It’s a shame the the last of the traditional, non-computer enhanced animated features fromDisney should be so lackluster. Nice DVD, though.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes with Intros
- “Anytime You Need a Friend” Music Video
- Yodel Memory Game
- Yodel Maker
- Joke Corral Activities
- “Trailblazers: The Making of Home on the Range” Featurette
- Art Review Featurette
- “A Dairy Tale: The Three Little Pigs” Short Feature
- Sneak Peeks