Home on the Range (2004)

Genres - Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Family-Oriented Adventure, Comedy Western  |   Release Date - Apr 2, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 78 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

This is the way Disney's hand-drawn animation department ends -- not with a bang, but a whimper. Like a veteran ballplayer continuing to suit up after the onset of arthritis, Home on the Range stumbles in at just over 70 minutes, a pale shadow of the giants that revived the studio's clout in the 1990s. It may feature a handful of plucky cows, but the film was far short of a cash cow, returning only $50 million domestically on its reported $110 million budget. It's not that Home on the Range is bad, so much as colossally unimportant. It's easy to see why Disney rarely strays from fairy tales or other stories in the public domain, because this saga of three cows protecting the farm from Old West archetypes and other varmints is small and flavorless. Save a few angular landscapes and sharply designed characters, the animators seem to have given up on being inventive, knowing that their jobs would not survive this project. Home on the Range does have a wickedly metaphorical undercurrent, as the plot involves the closure of numerous farms and ranches -- the end of the old way of doing things. But Home on the Range would only entertain the youngest tykes even if it had been CG. Seeing as how the film is aimed at such an infantile demographic, it's all the more strange that they slapped a PG rating on what amounts to a totally inoffensive piece of insignificance. Happy trails, Disney, until we meet again -- if we ever do.