Home on the Range (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
July 5, 2012 by Dennis Amith
As a family film, I can recommend “Home on the Range”. Definitely not the best Disney animated film and a bit disappointing, but as long as your children enjoy it, for many parents, that may be enough to purchase this Blu-ray release!
BLU-RAY TITLE: Home on the Range
MOVIE RELEASE DATE: 2004
DURATION: 76 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 Aspect Ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: Engliish SDH, French and Spanish
COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2012
Directed by Will Finn, John Sanford
Written by Will Finn, John Sanford
Story by Will Finn, John Sanford, Michael LaBash, Sam J. Levine, Mark Kennedy, Robert Lence
Produced by Alice Dewey
David J. Steinberg
Music by Alan Menken
Edited by H. Lee PEterson
Casting by Matthew Jon Beck, Mary Hidalgo
Production Design by David Cutler
Art Direction by David Cutler
Featuring the Voices of:
G.W. Bailey as Rusty, the Dog
Roseanne as Maggie
Jennifer Tilly as Grace
Bobby Block as Piggy
Steve Buscemi as Wesley
Carole Cook as Pearl Gesner
Charlie Dell as Ollie, the Pig
Judi Dench as Mrs. Caloway
Charles Dennis as Rico
Marshall Efron as Larry, the Duck
Joe Flaherty as Jeb, the Goat
Cuba Gooding Jr. as Buck
Estelle Harris as Audrey the Chicken
Lance LeGault as Junior, the Buffalo
Randy Quaid as Alameda Slim
When a greedy outlaw schemes to take possession of the “Patch of Heaven” dairy farm, three determined cows, a karate-kicking stallion and a colorful corral of critters join forces to save their home. The stakes are sky-high as this unlikely animal alliance risk their hides and match wits with a mysterious band of bad guys.
In 2004, Disney released their 45th feature titled “Home on the Range” as part of the Walt Disney Animated Classics.
The animated film was to mark the final traditional animated Disney film (until Disney would return back to it in 2009) as the company would be focused on CGI animation. The film would also mark the final Disney film to be released on VHS.
“Home on the Range” begins with a story about how Alamida Slim, a cattle rustler, had stolen all of Mr. Dixon’s cattle on Dixon Ranch but one. That one cow, Maggie, was sold to a kind elderly woman named Pearl who runs a small farm called Patch Heaven.
Unfortunately, Pearl is behind on her bills and now the bank is cracking down on the debtors. With only three days to pay the bank $750, the local sheriff tells Pearl that if she doesn’t pay, her farm will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
With the animals afraid they will lose their home, Maggie (featuring the voice of Roseanne Barr), Mrs. Calloway (featuring the voice of Judi Dench) and Grace (featuring the voice of Jennifer Tilly) feel they must do something about it and head to town in hoping to win prize money from the fair.
Meanwhile, a bounty hunter named Rico (featuring the voice of Charles Dennis) catches a criminal and collects a reward. Now needing to go after Alamida Slim (as voiced by Randy Quaid), Rico is given Buck the horse (as voiced by Cuba Gooding Jr.) in hopes to get the $750 reward. Since $750 is what Pearl needs to keep her farm, Maggie and the cows decided they must catch Alamida Slim before Rico, so they can get the $750 reward.
But will Maggie, Grace and Mrs. Calloway be able to catch Alamida Slim?
“Home on the Range” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The film is quite colorful and the backgrounds, structures are well-painted. Blacks are also nice and deep. At the time this film was considered to be the last traditional animated film for Disney, there is some haloing on the edges at times. But for the most part, the lighting effects, the detail of the animation is well-done and well-animated. Video quality may not be perfect but “Home on the Range” does look great in HD compared to its original 2004 DVD counterpart.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Home on the Range” is presented in 1080p High Definition, widescreen (1:78:1 aspect ratio). Audio is dialogue and music driven and while the film is center and front channel heavy, there is good use of the surround channels. From the stomping of the cattle or horses to the more action-based sequences. There are also moments of LFE but for this type of film, it is mostly dialogue and musical tracks front-channel heavy.
As for the music, the music is western-themed and the musical tracks include yodeling.
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Home on the Range” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by producer Alice Dewey, co-writers/co-directors Will Fin and John Sanford.
- Deleted Scenes – (14:57) Featuring four deleted with filmmaker intro.
- “Anytime You Need a Friend” Music Video – (3:20) Featuring the Beu sisters performing “Anytime You Need a Friend”.
- Trailblazers: The Making of Home on the Range – (16:40) A featurette of the production of “Trailblazers”, the voice casting, the music, animation and more.
- Art Review – (10:15) Art director David Cutler and background supervisor Cristy Maltese talk about the film’s environments and the overall art of the film and how they were inspired to create the artwork.
- A Dairy Tale: The Three Little Pigs – (2:58) A short animated story about the three little pigs narrated by Mrs. Callow (and interrupted by various animals).
- Yodelmentary – (2:42) A featurette on how to yodel.
- Joke Coral: Herd off Jokes – (4:34) The animals of “Home on the Range” tell each other dumb jokes.
“Home on the Range” comes with a slipcover case and also a DVD version of the film presented in widescreen (1:78:1), English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
An enjoyable family film that children will love but those who grew up watching Disney films may be asking themselves after watching this film, “where is the Disney magic?”.
Granted, at the time “Home on the Range” was considered the final Disney animated film to be done in a traditional way, there was a lot of buzz before and after the film was released. In a way, many Disney fans were saddened by the announcement that this film would be the last traditionally animated film and Disney would be focusing on CG. Back then, I felt that both styles can still be done, attract a large audience and entertain people.
Personally, as much as I love CG, I wouldn’t want to see every animated film come out to be CG. So, at the time, many Disney fans were saddened (and then happy that Disney went back to creating animated films in the traditional style five years later).
With that being said, I was not a big fan of the film when it first came out but I realize that children would still enjoy it. It’s colorful, it’s fun but I was expecting an exceptional Disney storyline. Disney was on a roll with “Beauty and the Beast”, “Alladin”, “The Lion King”, “Pocontas”, “Mulan”, etc. But “Home on the Range”, seemed different than other Disney animated films and part of me, longs for the more emotional storylines. But part of me, growing up with Disney films realize that these films are for a new generation of Disney fans.
For me, the story of three cows trying to save their ranch owner from debt, it’s a rather simplistic story with good imagination, but storyline-wise, it was more in tune of what I would expect from a Looney Tunes cartoon, rather than a Disney animated classic. For my young son, he enjoyed the comedy between the characters and it made him laugh. And I realized, that as long as children are happy and that families can watch these films together with their children, that’s all that matters.
As for the Blu-ray release, the film does look great on Blu-ray but there is some haloing near the edges. Lossless soundtrack was good but not great and the special features that came with the 2004 DVD are included with this 2012 Blu-ray release. And for those traveling during this summer vacation, you also get the DVD included with the release, so it would be great to have on vacations or long commutes for the children.
“Home on the Range” was too banal for my taste. And sure, I can bring up my 2004 rant of my feelings of Roseanne as the main voice and how I felt it was too unusual for me to have her voicing the main character, especially opposite of Judi Dench as Mrs. Calloway and Jennifer Tilly’s voice as Grace. Talk about three different types of voice talent…
Personally, I felt “Home on the Range” was not so funny and even a bit light on the humor. It just lacked the Disney magic, the originality was not there and the writing was good but not great. For Disney films, I suppose we have been spoiled so much by wonderful films that we expect great written storylines in each film. So, I just felt it was an average Disney animated film. Also, as much as I enjoy Alan Menken’s work, the songs of this film were not as memorable and the yodeling for me was annoying.
But I did enjoy the traditional artwork, some of the background images were beautiful to watch but “Home on the Range” was not as good as I hoped for it to be. But once again, as long as the children are entertained, as a family film, it’s good. Just don’t expect anything original or amazing.
But as a family film, I can recommend “Home on the Range”. Definitely not the best Disney animated film and a bit disappointing, but as long as your children enjoy it, for many parents, that may be enough to purchase this Blu-ray release!
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