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Western Animation / Home on the Range

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Home on the Range is the 45th entry in the Disney Animated Canon, released on April 2, 2004.

Chronologically the last traditionally animated feature of the Disney Animated Canon released until 2009's The Princess and the Frog, and third-to-last after that and Winnie the Pooh (2011).

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. When the farm is threatened with foreclosure, 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 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.

This film is not related to the Western mystery/comedy novel series Holmes on the Range.

Home on the Range provides examples of:

  • 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 they came from a children's pop-up book, even though they still have their same voice actors.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Sheriff Sam Brown isn't exactly a competent sheriff. He spends most of his time lounging on his office porch. He is rather good friends with Pearl though and is genuinely remorseful about the farm's impending foreclosure. When the cows expose Slim at the climax, Sheriff Sam promptly arrests the fiend.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At the beginning of Slim’s Villain Song, one of the Willie Brothers tosses Slim an object that looks like a rifle and it seems that he will shoot a charging Maggie. It’s really his guitar, which he uses to hypnotize Maggie, Mrs. Calloway, and the herd of steers.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Mrs. Calloway is very protective of her hat. And losing it, even by accident, drives her to an anger frenzy attacking anyone in her way.
    • Slim gets on an angry tirade and starts attacking his sidekicks just because their refer to his yodeling as "singing".
      Slim: ... My singing? Songbirds sing. Saloon gals sing. Little bitty snot-nosed children sing. I yodel! And yodeling IS AN ART!
  • Bicolor Cows, Solid Color Bulls: Of the cows, Maggie is brown-and-white, Mrs. Calloway is black-and-white, and Grace is yellow-and-brown. When they encounter bulls, all the bulls are brown.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Mrs. Calloway is mostly black; Maggie is a very reddish brown; Grace's color is a very light brown. Comparing these cows to humans, they'd respectively be a brunette, a redhead and a blonde (Grace is even troped as a Dumb Blonde, see Character page...).
  • Break the Haughty: A very sad example for Buck when it is revealed that his idol, Rico, is actually a mercenary who has been working for Slim all along. Seriously, as much of an obnoxious jerk he was to the cows, it's hard not to feel sorry for him.
    Buck: No, it can't be!
  • Bright Is Not Good: Slim, whose psychedelic hypnosis offers a strong contrast to the usual dark themed Disney antagonist.
  • The Brute: Junior the buffalo, Slim's mount. He serves as a bouncer for Slim's base Echo Mine and proves to be the most durable of the villains as he falls down a mine shaft, weathers an explosion and crashes into a train and survives each of them without a scratch.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Mrs. Calloway's Berserk Button is weaponized by Maggie to break the cows out of a train car.
    • During the Patch of Heaven song you can see a train in close proximity, and on Slim's map of property you can see the train tracks near the land. Guess how the cows get back to the ranch in time.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The rabbit seen at the very beginning later helps out the cows by showing them where Alameda Slim's hideout is.
    • As the cows pass Maggie's old farm, we see a heavyset man known as Mr. O'Del buying it. After Slim and his gang return to their base after another rustling job, it's revealed that Slim, in his disguise as Mr. O'Del, bought Maggie's farm.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Grace's tone deafness. She is the only animal seen not mesmerized by Alameda's yodeling.
  • The Con: Slim steals cattle from local ranchers, which is their main source of business. He then sells those cattle off and waits for the ranchers' farms to go bankrupt. He then goes in disguise to buy the bankrupted property. He has done this with many farms, with "Patch of Heaven" being his latest target.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Patch of Heaven is shaped the exact same way as one of the Willie Brothers' heads, and he always happens to sit in the same spot at their hideout in front of the map Slim uses to note the various properties he's acquired such that the farm is hidden from Slim's viewpoint, meaning that Slim consistently never noticed he'd yet to buy Patch of Heaven. Slim Lampshades this upon finding out.
    Slim: Uh, Gil?
    Gil: Uh-huh?
    Slim: Am I correct in assuming that each and every time we brought a herd back to this secret lair, you've managed to sit in the exact same spot, BLOCKING THAT CHOICE-PIECE OF PROPERTY FROM MY VIEW?!
    Gil: This is my comfy place. What? (Slim grabs him by the throat)
    • Slim's reward money is $750, the exact amount of money needed to pay off Pearl's debts and save the farm.
  • Cool Horse: Buck. He's also the fourth Disney Animated Canon horse to talk.
  • Dance Party Ending: The film's ending has the animals on Patch of Heaven (as well as additions like Buck, Lucky Jack, Junior, and the two bulls) dance to the song that introduced the farm, "Little Patch of Heaven".
  • Disguised in Drag: At the saloon the cows barge into, thinking it's the sheriff's office, they get into a fight with three call girls. One of the girls is thrown into the arms of another man and her wig falls off. The man "she" happened to be thrown into was his son. The son is equally confused.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The middle of Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo features one, with color-changing cows performing choreography in a black void as Slim directs them around.
  • Disney Death: Junior presumably falls down a mine shaft, but shows up later, trying to chase down the cows and Lucky Jack.
  • *Drool* Hello: Lucky Jack is greeted by a coyote because of a rainstorm of drool.
  • False Utopia: Pearl's farm is idyllic, charming, homey — and extremely hard just to keep afloat. Pearl mentions that she's weathered blizzards and tornadoes and is constantly getting notices from the bank. This is compounded by the fact that she refuses to sell off any of her animals, whom she considers family.
  • Feather Fingers: Downplayed. 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.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When we first meet Maggie after Slim manages to swipe her fellow cattle from her old home, her eyes look a little multi-colored and she looks dizzy inside her locked paddock before shaking them both off and there was some yodeling heard before the cattle was gone. This foreshadows that Slim has hypnotic powers over cattle through his yodelling.
    • When passing by the Dixon Ranch later on, the trio see it being sold to a heavy-set man named Yancy O'Dell. Sharp-eyed viewers can see that he has Alameda Slim's characteristic red moustache and hair underneath his hat, and once Slim's modus operandi of using yodelling to control cattle is revealed, it becomes clear that it's him in disguise.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Subverted as he wasn't really evil himself but rather a selfish jerkass who was unknowingly working with someone in league with the Big Bad, but once Buck realizes that the guy he idolizes and had been working with is a bad guy, he helps the cows escape after they are captured.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Grace. This is what protects her from being hypnotized by Slim's Mind-Control Music.
  • Humiliation Conga: This happens to Alameda Slim, especially at the climax.
    Alameda Slim: (upon his defeat by barn animals) You think you've won?! It's ain't over till the fat man sings!
  • Immune to Mind Control: Grace, due to being tone-deaf, is the only cow who is not affected by Slim's Mind-Control Music, and manages to snap her friends out so they can stop him.
  • Informed Location: Patch of Heaven is said to be a dairy farm. Before Maggie came along, it had exactly two cows.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • Steve Buscemi as Mr. Wesley.
    • One might say the same about Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench, and Jennifer Tilly as actual cows.
    • Randy Quaid as Alameda Slim; almost no difference.
    • One can definitely see Cuba Gooding Jr. as a horse.
    • Then there's former Governor Ann Richards as Annie, the owner of the saloon.
  • Interspecies Romance: Junior the Buffalo and Mrs. Calloway, at the end.
  • Involuntary Smile of Incapacitation: Played for Laughs. All the cows who are susceptible to Slim's hypnotic singing give a goofy grin when they fall under his control. Only Grace is unaffected.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Buck is initially annoying and selfish towards the cows, but close to the end, he joins their team and helps them escape.
    • Also Mrs. Calloway, with her hotheadedness but still huge heart.
    • And Jeb the grumpy goat, as proven in the climax. When Slim pulls out a pistol at the three bovines, Jeb is the first one to call for attack and he and the piggies launch several tin cans at Slim, knocking his pistol away.
    • Maggie as well. She is a prize winning cow and can be headstrong and aggressive. She is also loyal to her new home and kind to her new family.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: In general, Alameda Slim's plan is this. He abducts all cattle from a farm and sells it on the black market. He then waits for said farm to go bankrupt after being deprived of its main source of income. He then swoops in, in disguise of course, and buys out the farm to take over the land.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Buck is a big fan of Rico, and is excited at the prospect of being his horse for the bounty hunt on Slim when first chosen.
  • Laughably Evil: Slim is commonly compared to Captain Hook in this regard by fans.
  • 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.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Alameda Slim's Villain Song, Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo, starts off very ominously as the infamous cattle rustler shows up in the dark of the nighttime desert and exposits about how skilled and dangerous he is while seemingly unaware of Maggie's efforts to attack him, and for a moment it looks like he's about to shoot her with a rifle. And then he starts yodeling, and the whole scene becomes more upbeat and colorful, even funny and loaded with self-deprecation about his Ironic Nickname.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Slim keeps referring Mr. Wesley as "Mr. Weasley" to annoy him.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: The cows get these when affected by Slim's Mind-Control Music.
  • No-Sell: Slim's hypnotic yodeling has no effect on Grace, because she’s not on "perfect pitch" like the rest of the cattle. It especially helps since she's the only one that doesn’t turn multicolored during the Disney-acid Villain Song.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Alameda Slim disguising himself as Yancy O'Del.
  • Parental Bonus: Right in the first scene, when Maggie is introduced, the camera centers on her udders while she says to the viewer:
    Maggie: Yeah, they're real. Quit staring.
  • Politician Guest-Star: Ann Richards, then the Governor of Texas, portrayed Annie, the saloon owner.
  • Power Trio: Of the three cows, Maggie is Ego, Mrs. Calloway is Superego, and Grace is Id.
  • Price on Their Head: Alameda Slim has a $750 bounty on him, which is exactly enough money to save Patch of Heaven.
  • Randomized Title Screen: The DVD menu has three different openings each time you start the disc.
  • Real Is Brown: At least compared with most Disney cartoons. It takes place somewhere "West of Nebraska", so most of the scenery is made up of rocks, dirt, and sand.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mrs. Calloway seems to hold this position on Patch of Heaven. When Jeb and the piggies get into a dispute over the former taking a can from the latter and it escalates to both parties getting into a scuffle, Mrs. Calloway chastises the piggies for attacking Jeb yet allows them to have the can, pointing out that Jeb already has more than enough cans already.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The baby animals, especially the chicks.
  • 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...
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Somewhat subverted; Maggie can completely understand Calloway's sarcasm, but when the former gets the idea of bringing Slim in to save the farm, she’s too eager about her idea to take Calloway's sarcastic remark seriously.
    Maggie: I got it! Why don't we go nab that Alameda Slim and use the reward money to save the farm?
    Mrs. Calloway: Oh, that is a sensible idea.
    Maggie: I knew you'd love it!
    Mrs. Calloway: Don't they have sarcasm where you come from?
  • Scenery Porn: Say whatever you want about the story or the characters, but this film has some pretty impressive scenery. The use of faceting makes for some interesting lighting choices, and the color palette is just lovely.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At one point, Maggie refers to Buck as "Stallion of the Ci-MORON"
    • "Mother of Mercy. Is this the end of Rico?"
    • Alameda Slim sells his stolen cattle to a guy named Wesley, but insists on calling him "Weasley".
    • Slim's sequined outfit and singing is a reference to Roy Rogers, the Singing Cowboy.
    • During Slim's villain song, one of the tunes he yodels is the The William Tell Overture. In fact, a lot of Slim's yodeling borrows tunes from other music, including from Wagner and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: A near-literal example: when Slim is outed, he's not about to accept defeat and tries to yodel again to get the upper hand, but Grace kicks a cowbell into his mouth, silencing him for good.
  • Stock Scream: Junior the bison lets out a Goofy holler after the cows accidentally push him down the mine shaft.
    Grace: Sorry!
  • Theme Naming: The Willie bros are named Bill (blue hat and blue bandanna), Phil (red hat and red bandanna) and Gil (green hat and green bandanna).
  • Title Drop: The very first spoken words of the movie, actually. Maggie opens with the movie's title "Home on the range..." to then explain she's between homes right now.
  • Villain Song: "Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo" starts out as a typical villain song where the villain brags about how mean he is, but then the yodeling starts, turning the scene into a goofy Disney Acid Sequence.
  • Weak Boss, Strong Underlings: Pearl Gesner has been a farmer her whole life, so she's rather fit for an old lady. Proof of this is that she has run a farm all on her own, which involves doing heavy labor such as raising animals and harvesting crops. She still manages to fall under this trope because, well, she owns a trio of very determined and loyal cows. Cows are way stronger than any human being.
  • The Wild West: The movie takes place out west, focusing on farm life and cattle rustling as the main issue.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


"My singing?"

Alameda Slim is very proud of his hypnotic yodeling, and doesn't take kindly to people calling it "singing."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / BerserkButton

Media sources: