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Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.


Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris


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Movie review

Few discouraging words for 'Range'

By BILLY NORRIS
Published April 5, 2004

Home On The Range
[Walt Disney Pictures]
Three cows, from left, Mrs. Caloway (voice of Judi Dench), Maggie (voice of Roseanne Barr) and Grace (voice of Jennifer Tilly) help save a farm in Home on the Range.

Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

Home on the Range

Rating: PG

Summary: Maggie (voice of Roseanne Barr) is a dairy cow that has been moved to a new ranch called Patch of Heaven after her old farm was ransacked by a renegade cow thief named Alameda Slim (voice of Randy Quaid). As a result, her owner was forced to auction the farm off. Now, Patch of Heaven is facing financial problems. Its owner, Pearl (voice of Sarah Jessica Parker), has failed to pay the bank, and the sheriff (Richard Riehle) has given her three days to come up with the money. Maggie, along with the two other cows from her new home, happy-go-lucky Grace (voice of Jennifer Tilly) and skeptical Mrs. Caloway (Dame Judi Dench), set out to get the $750 needed to save the ranch. They discover there is a reward for that amount being offered to whoever can capture the elusive Slim. Seeking revenge, Maggie leads the cows on a wild-goose chase and uncovers the unusual secrets this mysterious rogue uses to lure his prey.

My View: Disney's latest release is one of the best family offerings to hit the big screen since Finding Nemo. Don't overestimate the magnitude of that statement: This one comes nowhere near the spectacle of Nemo. But it is a well-rounded film that will please parents while entertaining the kids. The downside is the quality of the animation - 2-D has gotten as good as it can get. The look of it has just become cliche. Also, the musical score, which was done by Oscar-winner Alan Menken, was good, but it fell short of some of his truly impressive work such as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Everything else this film had to offer was top-notch. The cast of recognizable voice talent greatly strengthened the the dialogue. Case in point: Cuba Gooding Jr. played a fairly important role (a horse named Buck) and his trademark humor is conveyed physically through his character. The jokes were mild in content and could actually have earned a G rating. This film is a winner.

Recommendations: Catch this one with the family.

Grade: B+

Billy Norris, 16, is in the 10th grade at Seminole High School, and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

[Last modified April 2, 2004, 13:13:14]

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