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The other Redheaded Stepchild of Disney Animated Canon. Chronologically the last traditionally animated feature 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 dastardly Slim hypnotizes the cattle by yodeling. And Grace is tone-deaf, so she alone of all of the cows and cattle is immune to his hypnotic yodeling. So... Yeah...
The film was both a critical and financial flop - it is often blamed for nearly killing traditional animation, in fact. The film's soundtrack, provided by our old friend Alan Menken, is often viewed as the only strong point of an otherwise mediocre film.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: It's a Disney film.
- 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.
- 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!!!
- Blessed with Suck: What else would you call hypnotic yodeling? It wouldn't be useful in any other context.
- 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.
- 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.
- Conspicuous CGI: So much.
- Cut Song: "Heros and Villains (and Cows!)"
- Disney Acid Sequence: Occurs during the Villain Song (watch it here; Comparatively tame in comparison to past Disney examples though.
- Dumb Blonde: The Willie Brothers as male examples.
- Blonde-haired cow Grace counts as well.
- Dreadful Musician: Grace.
- Everything's Better with Cows
- Executive Meddling:
- The working title for this film was Sweatin' Bullets. Despite being much less conventional than a title taken from an already-famous song, Disney reportedly changed it because they did not "want children seeing a film with the word 'bullets' in the title!"
- Originally, the film involved literal Ghost Riders in the Sky stealing cattle with a young calf as the protagonist.
- A deleted scene features Slim's ultimate plan: to use the captured cattle to march on Washington, DC and take over the White House. They decided the idea was too strange.
- When the White House plan was scuttled, Slim's plan was changed to having the cows sold for slaughter. Disney had an eye on a McDonald's promotion, and didn't want kids making the connection, so the fate of the cows is left ambiguous: the only reference left in the film is the line "Don' wanna be late for that big round-up in the sky!"
- 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 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:
"Yep, 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*
- 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: The bison and Mrs. Calloway, apparently.
- Lucky Rabbit's Foot: Lucky Jack is a jackrabbit with a pegleg 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
- The Rustler
- Stock Scream: The bison lets out a Goofy holler.
- Take That: Maggy's "Stallion of the Cim-MORON" line. (Despite being released two years apart.)
- Through a Face Full of Fur:
- A Willie brother's face turns pinkish-purple (or purplish-pink) when Slim strangles him.
- Slim gets red-faced with anger, irritated by the Willie brother's density when they fail to recognize him after he dons on some clothes that aren't even like a costume or a disguise.
- Villainous Glutton
- Villain Song: "Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo".
- 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.