From Steve Oedekerk and Nickelodeon Movies, creators of "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," and
filmed entirely in CGI comes this hilarious look at what really happens in a barnyard when the
farmer's back is turned. "The Barnyard" is a lighthearted tale centering around Otis (voiced by
Kevin James), a carefree party cow, who enjoys singing, dancing and playing tricks on humans.
Unlike his father Ben (voiced by Sam Elliott), the respected patriarch of the farm, and Miles,
the wise old mule (voiced by Danny Glover), Otis is unconcerned about keeping the animals'
humanlike talents a secret. But when suddenly put in the position of responsibility,
the irresponsible cow finds the courage to be a leader...
From the warped mind that brought viewers comedies like Kung Pow, and even helped write
Bruce Almighty and its upcoming sequel Evan Almighty, comes the CGI-animated feature
film Barnyard. With the success of computer animated films in recent years, it's no wonder
there's been a literal flood of new feature films using the same format hitting theaters nearly
every month now. Barnyard follows the story of an immature party-minded cow who is forced
into the role of leadership against his will. Writer/director Steve Oedekerk uses his brand of
silly and off-the-wall humor to take what is a relatively common story to quite amusing lengths.
King Of Queens star Kevin James voices Otis the cow who is the film's central character.
Otis is an irresponsible fun-loving cow who was raised on the farm by Ben, the barnyard's leader -
a wise, no-nonsense cow who had adopted Otis as a baby some years before. The humor of Barnyard is goofy and tongue-in-cheek,
offering quite a few laughs while leaving plenty of room for some heart as well. At times the more
tender moments can feel a little forced, but it adds a little more depth to a story that otherwise
would be udderly ridiculous (sorry... I just had to).
The entire voice cast turned in great performances. While some fared better than others (Courtney Cox
and Sam Elliot's efforts were somewhat dry at times), several voice actors who've made a living providing
well-known voices for popular cartoon shows lend their talents to Barnyard as well. I enjoyed
picking out Rob Paulsen's (Animaniacs's Yakko, Pinky & The Brain's Pinky) signature voice as
Peck the rooster and trying to place other familiar voices. Character actor David Koechner (Anchorman)
provided the voice of the head coyote Dag who did well to make the villain quite sinister and intimidating.
With that said, the coyotes as the film's source of trouble with the barnyard team made for some
pretty intense scenes. Specifically, there's a sequence where the coyotes terrorize the chicken
coop and attack a cow that will most likely be too much for the younger viewers. The finale also involves
a showdown that has the vicious looking predators threatening the story's heroes.
Because some of the movie's more tenderhearted moments felt a bit unnatural in a few scenes,
the film's charm seemed to come when the animals were just plain goofing off. From a bit of revenge
played out from a group of cows on a cow-tipping snotty kid to all-out barn raves held after dark
(the fat, rapping rat named Big Cheese is brilliance), the mischief is where the fun lies in
Barnyard. But the mix of mediocre serious moments with complete silliness is what leaves
the movie feeling a bit undercooked. While I'm all for more heartfelt moments in an animated film,
it has to be done just right, and the resultant approach left this film feeling a bit too schizophrenic
and disjointed. Perhaps if it leaned more consistently to the unbridled style of humor, it would have
made for a stronger animated movie.
Nitpicks aside, Barnyard: The Original Party Animals is a fun little trip to the
Summer cinema. With flops like Monster House disgracing the silver screen, save your
money for the more family friendly nature of Barnyard... just be warned that the coyote
scenes may be a bit much for younger kids.
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 8/11/06)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Sex/Nudity: None, we just see the top
of a boy's butt crack as he waves it in a taunting fashion at a cow he tipped over.
Alcohol/Drugs: Instead of beer,
the cows take a "six pack" of milk with them into the car.
Violence: Coyotes attack a cow
who later dies; Coyotes rough up Otis but leave him; several animals fight a pack of coyotes
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most
reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content (with a few exceptions). However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.