Review of Disney’s Tall Tale (1995)

Disney's Tall Tale (1995) Movie Poster
Disney’s Tall Tale (1995) Movie Poster

Tall Tale is a 1995 Disney movie that tells the story of three legendary American folk heroes who join forces to save a town from a corrupt businessman. The movie stars Patrick Swayze as Pecos Bill, Oliver Platt as Paul Bunyan, and Roger Aaron Brown as John Henry.

Disney's Tall Tale (1995) Title Screen
Disney’s Tall Tale (1995) Title Screen

The Story

The film opens with a young boy named Daniel (played by Nick Stahl) who lives in his family’s farm in the town of Paradise Valley. He longs for a different life and dreams of moving to New York City.

Daniel’s father Jonas Hackett has always told him the western stories of Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and John Henry. However, Daniel is skeptical and doubts their existence.

As Daniel listens to his father’s stories, the three heroes eventually come to life and begin to help him fight against a greedy businessman named J.P. Stiles (played by Scott Glenn) who wants to take over the town.

Pecos Bill in Disney's Tall Tale (1995)
Pecos Bill in Disney’s Tall Tale (1995)

The first hero that Daniel meets is Pecos Bill, a cowboy with incredible strength and agility. Bill rides a giant cyclone like a bucking bronco and can shoot a gun with deadly accuracy. He is also the inventor of the lasso, which he uses to great effect in the movie.

Paul Bunyan's Babe the Blue Ox in Disney's Tall Tale (1995)
Paul Bunyan’s Babe the Blue Ox in Disney’s Tall Tale (1995)

Next, Daniel meets Paul Bunyan, a lumberjack with immense size and strength. Bunyan can chop down trees with a single stroke of his axe and can carry entire forests on his back. He is also accompanied by a giant blue ox named Babe.

John Henry in Disney's Tall Tale (1995)
John Henry in Disney’s Tall Tale (1995)

Finally, Daniel meets John Henry, a railroad worker with incredible strength and endurance. John is known for his ability to hammer steel spikes into the ground faster than any machine, and he is determined to prove that human strength can outdo technology.

Together, the three heroes and Daniel set out to stop J.P. Stiles and his army of hired guns. Along the way, they encounter a number of obstacles, including a raging river, a stampede of buffalo, and a treacherous mountain pass. You’ll have to watch the movie to see if they are successful in saving the farm and stopping the greedy businessman.

Pecos and Daniel in Disney's Tall Tale (1995)
Pecos and Daniel in Disney’s Tall Tale (1995)

Overall, Tall Tale is an enjoyable and entertaining movie that captures the spirit of American folklore. The film does a great job of bringing the legends of Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and John Henry to life, and the special effects used to depict their feats of strength and agility are impressive.

Notable Strengths

The acting in the movie is solid, with Patrick Swayze (Rest in Peace) giving a particularly strong performance as Pecos Bill. Swayze brings a great energy and sense of humor to the role, and his chemistry with the other actors is excellent.

Oliver Platt is also great as Paul Bunyan, and he does a good job of portraying the character’s larger-than-life personality. Roger Aaron Brown similarly delivers a solid performance as John Henry.

The supporting cast is also strong, with Scott Glenn doing an excellent job as the villainous J.P. Stiles. Glenn brings a real sense of menace to the character, and his scenes with the heroes are some of the film’s most exciting.

The special effects used in the movie are impressive, particularly for a film that was made in the mid-1990s. The scenes of Pecos Bill riding the cyclone and Paul Bunyan chopping down trees are particularly memorable, and they still hold up well today.

The movie also does a good job of capturing the spirit of American folklore and conveying the message that even in a world dominated by technology and progress, there is still value in the old ways and in the strength of the individual.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the movie is the way it weaves together the stories of Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and John Henry. Each of the heroes has their own distinct personality and abilities, and the movie does a great job of showcasing their unique strengths.

The film also has a great sense of humor, with plenty of jokes and one-liners that will appeal to both kids and adults. The scenes where Pecos Bill teaches Daniel how to use a lasso and where Paul Bunyan introduces him to Babe the blue ox are particularly funny.


Despite its strengths, however, Tall Tale is not without its flaws. The movie can be a bit slow at times, and some of the action scenes feel a bit flat. Additionally, the character of John Henry, while an important figure in American folklore, feels a bit underdeveloped compared to Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan.

Furthermore, the movie’s message about the value of individual strength and the dangers of progress can come across as a bit heavy-handed at times. While these themes are certainly relevant and important, they can feel a bit forced in the context of the film.

Pecos and his horse Widowmaker from Disney's Tall Tale (1995)
Pecos and his horse Widowmaker from Disney’s Tall Tale (1995)

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Tall Tale is an entertaining and enjoyable movie that captures the spirit of American folklore. While it may not be perfect, the film has plenty of strengths, including great performances, impressive special effects, and a sense of humor that will appeal to audiences of all ages.

Despite its flaws, Tall Tale is a fun and exciting movie that is sure to delight fans of Disney and American folklore alike. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and John Henry or just looking for a fun adventure movie to watch with your family, Tall Tale is definitely worth checking out.

Disney’s Tall Tale (1995) is available on DVD (paid link) and digital.