Movie: Home on the Range

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Our Rating: 3.00

Proving that family cinema is where Improv-circuit gags go when they die, Disney's latest animated feature provides a final resting place for such moribund comedy concepts as anger management, "Got milk?" and the self-kissing bravado of James Brown. But whatever the flick borrows from the Godfather of Soul, it owes infinitely more to the late Chuck Jones, whose oeuvre Range consistently raids for its stylized prairie backgrounds and character designs (except for a pair of fantasy interludes, wherein the players become almost Shag-like). Roseanne Barr's lazy lead turn as a sassy show heifer proves that voice actors shouldn't be cast solely because they resemble their characters physically; meanwhile, some reasonably catchy songs by Alan Menken help pad out the sketchy story, in which a bunch of animal buttinskys try to protect their farm from the machinations of a land-grabbing cattle rustler. There's periodic fun to the quest, though, especially when the drive to repel frontier insolvency starts to parallel the current anti-Eisner onslaught: "You don't sell family!" one morally correct beastie proclaims. Nah, you just strip it of one of its titles and hope for the best.

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