Whether you like Disney Animation Studio or not, there are at least a few things you’d have to admit about them. Not only did the studio turn animated feature films into a financially viable medium of entertainment on multiple occasions, but through Pixar, it did it twice. Ignoring that, a lot of its movies have stood the test of time. Part of the reason they do so is that they’re usually designed to be timeless. They’re designed to be for all ages and not just for kids. They don’t rely on modern slang or over the top pop culture references like most other animation studios do. Not all the movies succeed on this front mind you. Plenty of the movie’s I’ve seen aren’t as entertaining for me now as they were when I saw them as a kid. Although there were some other movies that I enjoyed more than I did when I was a kid, Tarzan being the best example.
Home On the Range isn’t like that at all. It’s an obnoxious comedy that seems to be geared exclusively towards kids. Most of the music is annoying. The jokes range from mildly unfunny to cringe inducing. The story is both lame and ridiculous at the same time. I can’t think of one single aspect of this movie that I enjoyed.
Normally this is the point in the blog post where I talk about the movie’s production background, but screw it. This movie doesn’t deserve the dignity of research. Apparently it’s hard to even find gifs for this movie on the internet, so I’m clearly not the only one who dislikes it.
Home On The Range stars three cows, belonging to a farm called Patch of Heaven. There’s Maggie, who’s recently sold to Patch of Heaven after her old farm is auctioned off. She’s a former show cow who’s obnoxiously confident and optimistic, despite coming from a farm that shut down. There’s also Mrs. Caloway, a snob, and Grace, who’s a bit ditzy and very tone deaf when it comes to singing. And yes, she sings a fair amount in this movie. As awful as her singing is, it’s the closest thing this movie gets to being funny.
The same day that Maggie arrives at Patch of Heaven, the owner is told that her farm is facing foreclosure. If she doesn’t come up with $750 in three days, it’ll be auctioned off. So apparently the farm owner cannot afford to pay her fees, but she can afford to buy a former show cow? Less than 10 minutes into the movie, we’ve already gotten our first major plot hole. And there were two songs within those 10 minutes. That’s what we’re dealing with here.
After some coaxing, Maggie convinces Mrs. Caloway and Grace to go to some dairy show to get some prize money. That doesn’t pan out, but then they hear about this outlaw cow wrangler and decide to capture him for the reward money. Yeah … three cows taking on an infamous cow wrangler. A villain who became a wanted man by stealing cows. And they don’t ask for any help from any other kind of animal through most of the movie. Did I mention I hate Home On The Range?
It’s around this point that we’re fully introduced to the most annoying character in the movie, Buck. He’s a horse who sees himself as a hero, keeps daydreaming about taking out bad guys. At the same time, he’s unintentionally working for the villains throughout most of the story, or trying to capture the outlaw cow wrangler on his own just so the cows can’t get the reward money to save their farm. This idiot thinks he’s a hero. And this guy never … shuts … up.
Before I go on with the rest of the movie, it’s time to talk about the music. Some of my complaints about the music could be considered personal taste. I’m not a fan of country music or Western music for that matter, even if there are a handful of songs that I can enjoy. There are a couple exceptions, like country pop from Shania Twain or some of Jonny Cash’s classics, but I usually try to avoid it. Even then, there’s only so much country music I can take at once. This movie is loaded with it. So I’ll admit that part of the reason I hate Home On The Range is due to personal taste, but I contend that most of the country music in this movie is somewhere between mediocre and bad county music.
The opening song in Home On The Range, “(You Ain’t) Home On The Range”, is an obnoxious western number. As it’s playing, there’s this rabbit that keeps getting hurt because of his clumsiness, and it’s all lame pratfall comedy about someone we don’t know or care about at this point. It’s the kind of comedy meant solely for little kids and it only makes the song worse.
There are a couple of songs that are tolerable, like “Little Patch of Heaven” and “Will the Sun Ever Shine Again”. The ladder is a sad song at the one point in the movie that attempts to be dramatic. It wasn’t enough for me to feel anything but boredom when I hated the movie up to that point, but maybe on its own I could enjoy it a bit. “Will the Sun Ever Shine Again” was actually written in response to 9/11 by famous Disney composer Alan Menken. “Patch of Heaven” is also tolerable in that I didn’t hate it like the obnoxious opener, but the fact that it’s played immediately after, and there’s a reprise at the very end of the movie when I wanted it to be over with, probably didn’t help. It’s possible that if I listen to these two songs down the road on their own, I might think they’re ok. But I still didn’t enjoy them while watching the movie.
The rest of the movie’s music goes right back to annoying. The worst of which is the villain song. I’ll just give you the title and see if you can figure out its style of music.
Yeah. Previous Disney villain songs include the slowly building and intimidating “Be Prepared” and Jafar’s epic reprise of “Prince Ali”. “Poor Unfortunate Soul” from The Little Mermaid highlights Ursula’s manipulative nature perfectly. The Great Mouse Detective even has two villain songs, and they’re both delightful thanks to Vincent Price’s performance. And of course the absolute masterpiece of The Hunchback of Notre Dame’s “Hellfire”, might just be the greatest villain song in the history of fiction. Even some of the straight to video Disney sequels have decent villain songs, like “My Lullaby” from The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride and “You’re Only Second Rate” from The Return of Jafar. And what do they follow that legacy with? A yodeling number.
And to top it all off, one of the songs in the credits suddenly switches to a modern pop song. It clashes with the rest of the movie’s feel, no matter how good or bad it may be.
The soundtrack outside of the music makes the movie feel like a Saturday morning cartoon more than an actual movie. There are a lot of silly beats in action scenes that completely remove any possible sense of tension. Not that the overuse of cartoon physics and the constant use of lame comedy helps in the first place. It doesn’t even sound like western or country style music, clashing with the majority of the songs in this movie.
Not even the art style feels like a Disney movie. There are touches of CGI here and there, but almost everything in the background looks flat everywhere else. There are a lot of jagged edges in character designs and straight lines that almost make this movie look like a straight to video sequel at times. Usually when Disney movies animate animals, they try to study actual footage of said animals to make it look right. Here, everything feels unnatural and cartoonish.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I don’t think this movie is very good. I found myself groaning audibly while watching this, half ignoring it while playing a game on my phone that I only ever use to drain the battery, and otherwise wishing it was over only 5 minutes of the beginning. That’s not to say that nobody will like this movie. Like any other Disney animated feature, it does have its fans. But this is the first case where I can’t understand why people like this one.
I actually ran a blog for several years where I mostly focused on watching bad movies and making fun of them. I stopped when I got sick of watching mostly bad movies after a while, but I still enjoy hilariously bad movies from time to time. I even own Troll 2 on Blu-Ray. I generally have a high tolerance for incompetent filmmaking, but this one annoyed me from start to finish. I do not recommend Home On The Range, and it is by far my least favourite animated Disney movie so far.
I know I’m not the only one, because it bombed at the box office.
Next up is Chicken Little, Disney Animation Studio’s first fully CGI movie, and the lowest rated movie in the studio’s history on Rotten Tomatoes. That scares me. After that, it’s Meet The Robinsons, and then Bolt, which is often credited as leading the way to the Disney Revival that we’re currently in the middle of. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel in more ways than one, but I’m worried about Chicken Little.