It's official: Roseanne Barr is a cow. So for that matter is Judi Dench in Disney's energetic animated caper Home On The Range. Boasting a stellar voice cast and six songs from The Little Mermaid's Alan Menken, the western spoof marks a return to form after such cartoon clunkers as Brother Bear and The Jungle Book 2. Sadly its dismal performance at the US box office means Disney is now scaling back its hand-drawn output in favour of computer-animated projects.
When sassy show cow Maggie (Barr) arrives at the Patch of Heaven dairy farm, she soon gets on the wrong side of prissy Brit Mrs Calloway (Dench) and flighty moo Grace (Jennifer Tilly). When the farm is threatened with foreclosure, though, the livestock must set aside their beefs. One solution presents itself: why not track down outlaw Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid) and collect the reward? The girls put their horns together and cook up a plan...
"HOME ON THE RANGE TESTS THE PATIENCE"
It's a neat idea, and writer-directors Will Finn and John Sanford milk it for as much anarchic comedy as they can. They're aided by larger-than-life vocal work from Barr and Tilly, and a jaunty score from Menken which freely references classic western themes. Best of all is a wildly imaginative set-piece that sees Quaid's rustler hypnotising heifers with his psychedelic yodelling.
So it's a masterpiece, right? Pull the udder one. Even at 76 minutes Home On The Range tests the patience, its shapeless plot ensuring it stays a minor addition to the Disney canon. And while Steve Buscemi has an amusing cameo as a weaselly cattle broker, Dame Judi never sounds at home in this wacky new medium. Then again, when you've played Juliet at Stratford, a talking cow must be a bit of a comedown.