Barnyard Review

Aug 07, 2006 | 10:09am EDT

Barnyard reminds me of a classic Far Side comic strip from Gary Larson in which there’s a bunch of cows in a field near a road standing around on two legs smoking cigarettes chatting with one another. One of them suddenly yells “CAR!” and they drop on all fours and act like well cows as the car drives by. Once the car is gone they stand back up again and resume their activities. Funny right? For a comic strip. To concoct a whole movie around the idea however you might be pushing it. And so we have Barnyard. The cows—along with the hens the goats pigs horses et. al.—walk on two legs and conduct themselves in a humanly fashion when the farmer is away. They even party hardy in the barn-turned-speakeasy once the sun goes down. Of course to keep the story going Barnyard throws in a father-son conflict with evil pillaging coyotes as the villains. Whatever. The cows are still standing in the end. The list of big talent lending their vocals this time around also fail to inspire. Comedian Kevin James voices the main cow Otis the “original party animal” who could care less about anything else but having fun. Gruff veteran Sam Elliot plays his dad Ben the strong leader of the farm who tries to teach his son how to care for the other animals. Yawn. Let’s see there’s also FriendsCourteney Cox as a lovely she cow; Wanda Sykes as her wisecracking friend (does she do anything else but wisecrack?); Danny Glover as a wise old mule (yes this is what he’s been reduced to); and Andie MacDowell as a mother hen. A real mother hen. Don’t even ask about Wild Mike. And don’t even get me started on the fact ALL the bovines have udders regardless of gender. Is Otis a bull trapped in a cow’s body? Of course as I’m obsessing over this rather glaring error in animal realism I have to stop myself realizing I’m watching a movie about talking farm animals livin’ life large as quasi-humans. Sigh. Writer/director Steve OedekerkJim Carrey’s go-to screenwriter having penned Bruce Almighty and both Ace Venturas—also has Kung Pow: Enter the Fist under his belt. Yes he knows a bit about comedy but his comic sensibilities obviously run very broad. In other words there are no subtle inside remarks aimed at the adults. To Oedekerk’s credit there are some moments of hilarity especially when Otis and a bunch of “Jersey” thug cows go for a joy ride. But it’s fleeting. It might be time to take a break from this glut of cutesy CGI animation.

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