If even the tagline
is a pun
, then it's not a good sign...
Chronologically the last traditionally animated feature
of the Disney Animated Canon
released until 2009's The Princess and the Frog
. Technically, Brother Bear
was the last hand-drawn feature they produced
, but this was the last one released
.In Ye Olde Wild West
, three cows named Maggie, Mrs. Calloway, and Grace live on a small, cozy farm named Patch of Heaven with other animals. Then the farm is threatened with foreclosure, and our heroines must act to save their home. They plan to achieve this by capturing a big-name cattle rustler named Alameda Slim for his bounty, which is the exact amount they need.
The film was both a critical and financial flop - it is often blamed for nearly killing traditional animation in the U.S.note
, in fact. The film's soundtrack, provided by our old friend Alan Menken
, is often viewed as the only strong point of an otherwise poor film. Together with Dinosaur
and Chicken Little
, it's viewed as one of the weakest films of the Disney Animated Canon
The cows are voiced by Roseanne Barr (Maggie) Judi Dench
(Mrs. Calloway) and Jennifer Tilly
(Grace). Other notable voices include Cuba Gooding Jr., Randy Quaid and Steve Buscemi.
- The Ace: Rico the Bounty Hunter, who Buck idolizes and many people recognize as one of the greats.
- Broken Ace: But he's really working with Slim, which Buck finds out the hard way.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: It's a Disney film.
- An Aesop: One of the straightest ever - Home is where the heart is.
- Art Evolution: this was the last Disney film to use the CAPS digital ink-and-paint system in use since 1989. The Princess and the Frog used the more modern Toon Boom system.
- Art Shift: Only for the DVD features, such as the short "A Dairy Tale". All the characters are Super-Deformed and look like kids even though they still have their same voice actors.
- Berserk Button:
- Do not mess with Mrs Calloway's hat.
- Do not mistake Slim's yodeling as "singing".
... My singing? Songbirds SING. Saloon gals SING. Little bitty snot-nosed children sing, I yodel! And YODELING, is an ART!!!
- Don't suggest to Pearl, the owner of Patch of Heaven, about selling any of her animals, either.
- Blessed with Suck: What else would you call hypnotic yodeling? It wouldn't be useful in any other context. Not even as singing.
- Big Beautiful Cow: Maggie
- Blinding Bangs: All three of the Willie Brothers with a one Peek-a-Bangs moment during the fight scene near the train tracks.
- Bright Is Not Good: Slim, whose psychedelic hypnosis offers a strong contrast to the usual dark themed Disney antagonist.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The rabbit seen at the very beginning later helps out the cows by showing them where Alameda Slim's hideout is.
- The Chew Toy: The one-legged rabbit Lucky Jack, as hilariously demonstrated in the opening scene.
- Clark Kenting: A rare villain example. Alameda Slim does this to buy up the lands he just rustled. Lampshaded when his nephews are easily duped by it.
- Compelling Voice: Alameda Slim, when he yodels. It only works on cows, which is perfect for a cattle rustler.
- Conspicuous CGI: So much.
- Cut Song: "Heros and Villains (and Cows!)"
- Disney Acid Sequence: Occurs during the Villain Song (watch it here. Tame in comparison to past Disney examples, though.
- Dumb Blonde: The Willie Brothers as male examples.
- Blonde-haired cow Grace counts as well.
- Everything's Better with Cows
- Feather Fingers: None are evident, and the cows almost never actually rear up on their back legs to use their hooves like hands. But their tail-tufts are apparently prehensile, to the point where Maggie can do sleight of hand with hers.
- Franchise/Genre-Killer: As far as 2-D Disney animation goes it almost killed the franchise, until The Princess and the Frog redeemed it somewhat.
- Freudian Excuse: Slim's overall plan, he wants revenge on all the ranch owners for not appreciating his own.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- A lot with Maggie. Hearing the following line in a Disney movie is about as awkward as you can imagine:
"Yeah, they're real. Quit staring."
- This line is the reason why the film got a PG rating.
- Just from the Villain Song, it's clear that the bad guy's minions are... very interested in his butt. Pulling out the waistband of his pants, slapping it, pulling up his underwear...
- When the cows enter a saloon and wreak havoc, one of the saloon gals is revealed to be a Drag Queen.
- The beginning of the Cattle Drive Scene
"Maybe we can help EACH OTHER?" *wink*
"So ah, how does that work exactly? Do ya get ta ride him on odd days or even?"
- "I have two words for you guys! Cold! Shower!"
- Heel-Face Turn: Once Buck the horse realizes that the guy he idolizes and had been working with is a bad guy, he helps the cows escape after they were captured.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Grace.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Steve Buscemi. One might say the same about famously voluptuous Roseanne Barr and Jennifer Tilly as actual cows.
- Interspecies Romance: Junior the Buffalo and Mrs. Calloway, at the end.
- The Knights Who Say Squee: Buck is a big fan of Rico, and was excited at the prospect of being his horse for the bounty hunt on Slim when first chosen.
- Lucky Rabbit's Foot: Lucky Jack is a jackrabbit with a peg-leg and incredibly bad luck, implying that someone took one of his feet, and with it all his good luck.
- Mama Bear
- Power Trio: Of the three cows, Maggie is Ego, Mrs. Calloway is Superego, and Grace is Id.
- Real Is Brown: At least compared with most Disney cartoons. This, along with the weirdly angular, stylized characters, makes for a film that's rather hard on the eyes.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The baby animals.
- Right Behind Me: After fooling Rico's horse into running away, Buck remarks that he "must be takin' stupid lessons" from Slim's buffalo, Junior. Guess where we pan to after that statement...
- The Rustler
- Stock Scream: The bison lets out a Goofy holler.
- Stout Strength: Alameda Slim puts all three cows in a one-armed headlock, then quickly pins them to the ground.
- Villainous Glutton
- Villain Song: "Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo".
- What Could Have Been: The deleted scenes revealed a alternate opening with three singing/narrating fly creatures, an alternate meeting with Lucky Jack, a coyote chase scene, and a different goal by Slim to use his hypnotized cows to storm the White House and be president. The producers realized all these scenes worked well on their own, but not in the context of the overall film, so they cut them all out.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Maggie's beloved home, the Dixon Ranch, was raided by Slim, leaving her the only remaining cow. She's sold to Patch of Heaven at the beginning of the film, along with all the issues one might expect to arise from this.
- This also applies to Lucky Jack, who, as he says, once lived in Echo Mine along with many other jackrabbits for generations, until Slim arrived and kicked 'em out.