Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday animation: Home on the Range


The selected animated film for review today is Disney's Home on the Range.  I have actually only seen this movie once in its entirety, and that was back when it was in theaters.  Since then, I have seen clips of it, but never the full movie.  So, I had to look it over a bit before writing this review, but it didn't take long for me to remember things about the movie.

With that said, let's just get right into it!

"Look at how much fun we're having!"

(Screencaps taken from here.)

Overview: Home on the Range is a Western comedy film released by Disney in 2004.  Disney had been going through a rough time since the beginning of the millennium, and this film was no exception as it was poorly reviewed and made less money than it took to make the film.  At the time, Disney announced that this would be the final hand drawn animated film it would create due to having so many flops in a row.

Art: The background art is gorgeous.  I hadn't seen this movie in ten years, so when I was looking up screencaps and videos, I was stunned by how beautiful it is.  The background art is probably among the best I have seen in any animated film.  So colorful, so vibrant, so stunning.  Many scenes look like they could be framed paintings.  That said, it is definitely stylized.  It doesn't look realistic at all, but I think that's what makes it so beautiful to me.  The more stylized design also allows for the use of bolder colors.  The character designs are a lot more cartoony, but they actually work together perfectly.  The result is a film that looks incredible but also looks like a fun cartoon at the same time.  Very crisp lines, very fluid, everything is always moving, no held frames.  Even when they know they aren't doing well, Disney doesn't take shortcuts with their craft, and it really shows in the art of this movie.  What I also really appreciated was the lack of CGI.  Oh, sure, it's definitely there, especially in the musical number "Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo," but other than that, CGI is not present too much in this movie, which is great.  I don't mind CGI in hand drawn films as it sometimes adds a lot of beauty, but what was great about this was that it was beautiful all on its own.  Very, very impressive.  When it comes to animation, Disney really is the king.

Even the scenes that are supposed to appear dreary are still beautiful.

Even a train crashing into it doesn't detract from the beauty of this scene.

lol bird
Sound: Great quality, clear audio, as to be expected for a modern film.  I thought all of the actors were quite good, though I think enjoyed Roseanne Barr as Maggie, Jennifer Tilly as Grace (mostly because I love her in Family Guy, haha), and Randy Quaid as the Pittmanesque Alameda Slim the most.  The music was okay, not particularly memorable, both background and vocal music.  This was definitely not like the broadway-type musicals Disney had been producing as of late, just fun songs.  There was only one song that was memorable, the one part that I remembered after a decade of not watching the film, the part I remembered liking the most when I got home after seeing it for the first time.  That song was "Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo," which is probably the most popular song from the film.  I wouldn't put it in my iTunes, but it is definitely a fun part to watch and hear.

Story: So, basically, a cattle rustler named Alameda Slim has been stealing cows and then buying the properties of the people he stole from when they find they are no longer able to support their land.  He has his eyes on a farm called Patch of Heaven.  Three cows that live there decide to set out to stop Slim and save the farm.  At the end of the movie, they capture Slim and use the reward money to save their farm.  The story is just okay, fun, but not particularly inspiring or even that interesting.  It has some humorous moments and is full of action, but the plot is just too weak to hold up those scenes.  The characters are also not very interesting.  I would say the most interesting is the villain, Slim, but the main characters are nothing special.  They all seem pretty flat and two-dimensional.  I never found myself really caring if they saved the farm or not, which is not good for a movie.  It ended up being pretty boring in the end.

Personal appeal: I really wanted to like this movie when it came out.  I knew Disney was struggling and that they had said this would be their last hand-drawn film, so I really wanted it to be good and successful so that they would change their minds.  Sadly, it really wasn't a good movie.  Even the beautiful art couldn't save it.  It just lacked charm and intrigue.  I was so, so disappointed in this movie, and that was why I ended up never watching it again because it just hurt so much that Disney had done this to themselves.  Yes, Disney did it to themselves.  I knew that they had it in them to create great movies, but for whatever reason, they kept creating these weird movies with weird plots and weird jokes, and there's no way they couldn't have known that this movie was dull before they released.  I refuse to believe that they somehow really thought this was a great movie.  I don't hate this movie, but I can't say I like it either.

Overall, I give this film two and a half peridots out of five, and if it weren't for the background art being so lovely, it would've been one and a half peridots.