Barnyard: The Original Party Animals
What happens in the barn stays in the barn
Running Time: 90 minutes
US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG
Country: United States
I remember watching animated movies when I was a child. The story was more important than the stars. That changed with Disneys Aladdin. Robin Williams Genie was such an integral part of its success that animated films became more about the actors than the characters.
Fortunately, many movies succeed despite that strategy. Thats because the actors remember its their job to make you forget their name and make you believe the character on screen.
For the most part, Barnyard succeeds in this regard. Youll immediately recognize the voice of Ben the Cow (Sam Elliott), but thats because youre supposed to. Its humorous to hear a bovine with the voice of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Beef. Its whats for dinner. On the contrary, Bessy the Cow (Wanda Sykes) reminds you its a movie every time she speaks. The subtext of each line is Listen to me, Im Wanda Sykes. Fortunately, she doesnt say much.
Barnyard is based on the premise When the cats away, the mice will play, except in this movie you could say, When the farmers away, the farm animals will walk and dance and order pizza.
Ben is protector of the barnyard. His son, Otis the Cow (Kevin James), is a party animal (no pun intended) who has yet to learn about responsibility. When Ben tells Otis A strong man stands up for himself; a stronger man stands up for others, theres no doubt that Otis will learn this slightly heavy-handed lesson by movies end and find love, Daisy the Cow (Courteney Cox), at the same time.
At times, Barnyard dances on the fine line between homage and theft. It features a donkey that looks like Donkey from Shrek; a ferret that looks like Sid from Ice Age; scenery that sparks memories of Pride Rock in The Lion King, and moments that leave you thinking, Didnt Simba do that?
Although Barnyard begins predictably and ends predictably, there are surprises in between. It sets you up for the same ol talking animal gags and then gives you others that are entirely different.
In the end, Barnyard is a movie meant for kids. While adults will recognize familiar clichés and stereotypes, the children wont. Theyll enjoy Barnyard for what it is, an entertaining family film.
It's Got: A cow singing Tom Petty, a rapping rat wearing bling and a rooster doing stand-up comedy
It Needs: An anatomy lesson, male cows dont have udders.
Unlike The Lion King, Barnyard doesnt have the epic feel of an animated masterpiece. Despite that, its still better than the sum of its recycled parts.