COULD THREE COWS SAVE THE FARM...AND CEL ANIMATION? @ 13 July 2012 08:24 PM
When Home on the Range was first released, for some reason the fate of 2-D or "traditional" animation was resting on it, as Disney was still in a tempestuous internal swirl and did not yet own, nor at the time have hope to stay attached to, the formidable Pixar -- who to this day, have had an unbroken string of films with strong, and usually gigantically successful openings.
It seems odd now to pin such hopes on such an unpretentious film, one that revels in its non-CG-ness and harkens back to the sunny Disney vistas of Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and the lesser-known Saga of Windwagon Smith.
The performance of Home on the Range at the box office is less a refection of its quality than simply that there wasn't much of an audience for cartoon westerns starring cows in 2004. When you strip away its history and look at the film on its own (and many will today when they watch the new Blu-ray/DVD), you have a highly entertaining romp with fun characters, a loose story, some magnificent artwork and top animation.
Most of all, there some really fine songs, especially "Little Patch of Heaven" and the haunting "Will the Sun Ever Shine Again" (the latter been inspired in part, according to composer Alan Menken, by the despair following 911).
While the leading cast received much attention, one of the nicest things about Home on the Range is that it also employed such talented actors as SCTV's Joe Flaherty as Jeb, the goat, and, in particular, Carole Cook as Pearl. Cook was a close friend and protegé of Lucille Ball and played Bessie in the beloved film, The Incredible Mr. Limpet.
Watching and listening to the generous bonus features, it is evident that a great deal of skill and creativity goes into a film like this, so it cannot be dismissed as mere fluff, though it certainly does not leave you with the same glow as Beauty and the Beast. Nor it is intended to do so.
The most comical thing in retrospect turns out to be that a lighthearted animated movie about cows could be held up as the deciding factor in the future of cel animation. Of course, it didn't happen that way, and there have been other traditional features since, including last year's well-received and exquisite Winnie the Pooh.
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