movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)
NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Vinnie Bartilucci who says... "This was a fabulously funny Disney film, very irreverent, similar in style and humor to the oft-ignored "The Emperor's New Groove"
The film starts with a seemingly stand-alone slapstick bit starring peg-legged jackrabbit Lucky Pete. Very reminiscent of the Scrat in ICE AGE, he gets into a series of painful looking scrapes, all before the opening titles.
We next get some backstory courtesy of the prizewinning dairy cow Maggie (Roseanne). Her farm, the Dixon Ranch, was ruined because its entire herd of cattle was rustled by the infamous Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid). Maggie is sold off to the Patch of Heaven farm, run by Pearl, and featuring animals like cranky goat Jeb (Joe Flaherty) and dairy cows Grace (Jennifer Tilly) and Mrs. Calloway (Judi Dench). After a brief and tense introduction to everyone (well, tense for Mrs. Calloway; everybody else loves Maggie) the Sheriff comes to the farm, riding his faithful mount Buck (Cuba Gooding Jr.) to report that the bank plans to foreclose on her farm's mortgage. She has three days to come up with $750 or lose the farm.
Everyone is despondent, but Maggie has an idea. The State Fair is in a couple of weeks; Maggie suggests they pretty up the animals and sweep the prizes at the fair. She heads off to town to get the Sheriff (by way of Buck) to postpone the foreclosure. Grace agrees to join her, and after some hesitation (and a little silent convincing by the baby chicks), Mrs. Calloway follows. As they travel to town (on foot, er, hoof) we see the remains of the Dixon Ranch being auctioned off to philanthropist Yancy O'Del. We also get to hear Grace's singing, which has all the musical beauty of a bucket of rusty nails.
In town, Buck is practicing his moves in hopes that someday he will be able to go out on a real crimefighting adventure. The cows arrive to beg for time, and are told that there's no way it can be delayed - the farm will be auctioned off on Thursday. The girls think they're finished, when into town rides famed bounty hunter Rico (Charles Dennis) carrying another captured desperado. The Sheriff tells him he's captured just about every villain in the territory except for the rustler Alameda Slim, who has a price of $750 on his head.
Ka-ching! Maggie has a brilliant idea. The girls will track down and capture Alameda Slim themselves and claim the reward! They hitch themselves to a wagon heading to a cattle drive and just wait... Rico needs a fresh horse, and the sheriff offers Buck. Buck is near tears as he realizes he's wearing Rico's saddle, and they ride off.
When they arrive at the cattle drive, and night falls, Alameda Slim and his gang pounce, and Slim pulls out his secret rustling weapon...yodeling. His melodic yodeling hypnotizes the cattle...and alas, Maggie and Mrs. Calloway. Grace, due to her "perfect pitch" (*snicker*) is immune to the siren effects. She successfully awakens the girls, and they take off after the rustlers. They lose them after a huge rock blocks the pass the rustler escape through.
Shortly after they are stopped, who should arrive but Rico and Buck. While Rico talks to the ranch hands, Rico talks to the cows. When they explain their plans, he excitedly tries to convince them to give up, as he and his new "partner" will do it. Meanwhile, Rico sees Buck acting crazy, and assumes he's skittish near cows. He asks the ranch hands for a new horse, and asks them to take Buck back to town.
The cows take off after Slim, and so does Rico...without Buck. He's crestfallen, but has a brainstorm...HE'LL catch Slim, to prove himself to Rico! So off he goes.
After some time, patience begins to wear between the girls. Just as they reach the breaking point, it begins to rain, and the plains are hit by a flash flood. The cows barely make it to a small patch of dry land. Maggie is angry, and swats Mrs. Calloway's perky hat off her head, and it lands in the mud. BAD idea...She loses it, and takes off after Maggie. After she calms down, they agree to part ways after the water recedes.
Once it does, Maggie and Mrs. Calloway realize that it's Grace that's missing. But no fear, she has met "desert shaman" Lucky Jack, the danger-prone jackrabbit from the pre-title sequence. He explains that he used to live in a nearby abandoned gold mine, but was driven out by a band of rustlers who are now using it as their hideout.
Could it be Alameda Slim? Of course, silly, this is a kid's film, there's no time for false alarms...
Cut to the aforementioned mine. Alameda Slim is explaining his plot to his dim-witted gang (and the audience). His plan is simple - he steals a ranch's cattle, it goes into default, and Slim buys the ranch at auction, disguised as...philanthropist Yancy O'Del! (Y.O'Del, get it?) At that point he realizes that he's missed one bit of the territory - The Patch of Heaven farm. Since it's already in default, he plans to pick it up at the auction on Thursday.
The cows arrive to the hideout shortly after Buck, but he's stopped at the entrance by Slim's ride, a HUGE buffalo. The buffalo explains that Buck can't get in because "He's not a cow". So when the girls arrive, he politely moves aside and lets them (and Lucky Pete) enter.
"Hey, how come they got in?"
"Because they're COWS..."
"But what about the rabbit?"
"Well, obviously, he was WITH the cows..."
They get in, and Grace (in a rare blast of brains) pulls Jack's tail off and stuff the girls' ears with cotton so they won't hear the rustler's siren call. Soon, black market cattle broker Mr. Weasley (Steve Buscemi) arrives to buy Slim's stolen herd. They count the cattle...4,997. Oh, THERE'S the last three cows...
Outside, Rico is staking out the track that Weasley's train just rode into the mine on. Buck finds them and convinces his current horse (Patrick Warburton) that he should git while the gittin's good. Buck and Rio wait for the action to start.
And start it does. Slim yodels a tune and the girls pretend to be under his spell. As he comes to grab them, they push him into a mine cart and hogtie him. They got him! Here's where the action kicks into high gear; Slim's gang chase the cart, Buck sees the cart fly down the track and HE takes off after them, and Rico takes off after Buck and the rest. When the smoke clears, however, Slim is freed and the girls are roped...by Rico! He has, in fact, been taking money from Slim to act as a bodyguard to make sure his scheme goes off smoothly. Buck is crestfallen. Slim puts on his Yancy O'Del disguise and hightails it to the Patch of Heaven auction.
In the train, Maggie rallies the girls, and they try to break out of the train car. Maggie grabs Mrs. Calloway's hat and tosses it out the window...uh oh... Mrs. Calloway goes postal and bursts out of the car. One action sequence later, they have Slim captured and Rico taken out (his last line is just too good to ruin...) and they drive the train (???) right back to the Patch of Heaven. They arrive just in time; they unmask O'Del/Slim and reveal his nefarious plot. The sheriff tells Pearl that since her cows don't have much use for the reward money, maybe she has a better use for it?
The film jumps to a few weeks later - the farm is saved, and the gang returns from the State Fair, where with Maggie's help just about everyone has taken a blue ribbon. They all celebrate with a reprise of the theme song as the credits roll.