Home On The Range

9 out of 10


It's Not About Cows, Stupid!

Ostensibly, "Home on the Range" is just another Disney movie with singing animals that was panned by critics as lame and having no heart. Alameda Slim (played by Randy Quaid) rustles cattle from ranches, only to buy the farmsteads cheaply when they go bankrupt. After her own ranch is raided, Maggie the cow, goes to live on "Patch of Heaven" where she and the other cows fight to prevent the same fate befalling their own farm. It is when one realises that the entire film is allegorical that the true pain of artists who created it hits you like a sledgehammer. As such, "Home on the Range" is one of Disney's cleverest movies of all time ...and sadest.

Just as "Singing In The Rain" actually told the story of the upheaval of Hollywood through the advent of sound, so "Home On The Range" tells the pitifully sad story of the advent of CGI. Since the early 1920's, Disney's name had been almost synonymous with that of hand-draft cartoons. For several generations, a job at the Magic Kingdom was as notoriously badly paid as were their monstrous profits as they offered artists what no-one else could have in Hollywood, an utterly safe job. And so the band wagon rolled on until 1995 when "Toy Story" was released. Created totally in CGI, "Toy Story" was released by Disney, and had atcually been the creation of Pixar, a company based in Emeryville, a small suburb of ALAMEDA. Almost instantly, audiences were in a stampede to see Pixar's latest CGI wonder as Disney's own hand-drawn tanked, "Emperor's New Clothes", "Atlantis", "Brother Bear"... they all barely covered costs of production until..."The Treasure Planet" of 2003 hit Disney for $140m in production costs alone and pulled in a laughable $99m across the world before any distribution costs. With profits crashing, Disney comes under threat of a takeover.

With the writing clearly on the wall, the artists have told their story with many of the more outrageous lines by the bailiff sounding like bullshit from executive memo. With an incredible EIGHT writiers, it's as if everyone had something to say before their "Little Patch of Heaven" would be closed "after a couple of bad harvests" With the artists being made redundant daily even as it was being made, it is a comment not only on Steve Jobs, a lookalkie of Alameda Slim, taking all the cows with his "yodelling" like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, singing his tale of the bright future that CGI could offer them all, but on their betrayal by their own Disney CEO Michael Eisner, little disguised as Rico, the self-proclaiming hero who has sold them all down the river.

In the movie, three spirited cows (Roseanne Barr as Maggie, Judi Dench as Mrs Calloway and Jennifer Tilly as Grace) fight to save their farm run by a kindly old lady. Its completion was even in doubt for much of the time, with artists being made redundant daily from the jobs they had been promised would always be safe. Sadly, even by the time of the release, the aging Roy Disney, the last connection with its founding family had been forced to resign, the last 250 had been given their pink slips and the studio at Orlando, Florida were long gone.

Despite memorable music by KD Lang, herself from the cattlelands of Alberta, real life Texas Governor Ann Richards as the little old lady running the farm and a spirited performance by Cuba Gooding as the voice behind Rico's horse, it's still probably the sadest movie Disney have ever done.

Sadest Movie Disney Ever Made

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett