Home on the Range (5/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

OK, OK, this is a cartoon and I saw it. I canít stand cartoons. When I was growing up, cartoons were only a few minutes long and they were funny. There were generally one or two and there were also news and two features and coming attractions. But the coming attractions were only two in number and they were limited to what was going to appear next week.

Now there are no cartoons. There is no news. But, boy are there coming attractions. Thereís one after another, almost unending. And people think weíve progressed?

So I saw a cartoon. I didnít go for the cartoon. I went because the screening was at the El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. When I was young I went to all the great theaters. I went to the Graumanís Chinese, the Egyptian (where I saw The High and the Mighty (1954), Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), including a replica of Romeís Trevi Fountain in the lobby, and Oklahoma!  (1955), that I remember), the Pantages, and the Wiltern. Classic theaters, all. But I never went to the El Capitan. So when the screening for Home on the Range was at the El Capitan, I decided to go. The film was only around 70 minutes long and Iíd get to see a classic theater.

It was worth it. When I entered, 30 minutes before screen time, there was an organist onstage playing a pipe organ with 2,500 pipes, a la New Yorkís Radio City Music Hall. The El Capitan has boxes! I sat in one in the back. There were two others, one on either side of the stage, up high. And there was also one on the other side of the theater from where I sat. Itís a beautiful theater with a spectacular ceiling. The lady who sat next to me in the box told me that sometimes they have vaudeville acts before the movies, but I canít confirm that. Regardless, I felt transported to an early time, enveloped in nostalgia.

But this is a movie review. Home on the Range is about three cows, the arrogant Maggie (voice of Roseanne Barr), three-time winner of the Golden Udder Award, prim and proper Mrs. Caloway (Judi Dench) and the naÔve Grace (Jennifer Tilly). All the cattle of Maggieís original owner have been stolen by Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid) so she is sold to Pearl (Carole Cook), who owns the Patch of Heaven ranch thatís paradise for all her animals. But Pearl is in dire financial straits and has been served with a notice to pay her loan or the ranch will be sold. So the three cows go to town to try to catch Alameda Slim and save the day. Theyíre in competition with the sheriffís horse, Buck (Cuba Gooding), who wants to become the horse of Rico (Charles Dennis), who appears to be a heroic bounty hunter. Hey, this is a cartoon!

The music (Alan Menken, composer, and Glen Slater, lyricist) is pretty good. I thought one song, Will the Sun Ever Shine Again (sung by Bonnie Raitt), was good enough for an Oscar nomination. Roseanne has a terrific voice and wonderful timing and itís evident here.

If you have children, I think they would like it. If you like cartoons, you should enjoy it, too. If not, you still shouldnít die of boredom. I didnít.

March 27, 2004

The End