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Barnyard (PG)

Release Date: August 4th, 2006 by Paramount Pictures.
The Voices: Kevin James, Courteney Cox, Sam Elliott, Danny Glover, Wanda Sykes, Andie MacDowell, David Koechner, Jeffrey Garcia, Cam Clarke.
Directed by Steve Oedekerk.

BASIC PREMISE: When Ben the Cow (Elliot) gets killed by coyotes, Otis (James), his ill-mannered son, must take responsibility to rule the barn.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: In this CGI-animated film, a variety of barnyard animals walk on their hind legs, talk, sing and dance behind humans’ back. The lively animals include Otis and his father Ben, the cow, as well as Miles (Glover), a mule, Freddy the Ferret (Clark), Pip the Mouse (Garcia) and Etta the Hen (MacDowell). Otis takes over the barn, flirts with a new cow named Daisy (Cox) and battles vicious coyotes that killed his father. The humor is pretty much hit-and-miss with more misses than hits as the plot progresses. There’s slapstick humor, brief gross-out humor and some witty humor—thanks to Pip, a fast-talking ferret just like Twitchy the squirrel in the much funnier Hoodwinked. More scenes with Pip would have helped a lot to add more comic energy. It’s initially funny and surprising to watch the animals behave like humans such as using cell-phones and dancing to disco music. Other somewhat funny scenes include a woman who sees a cow walking on its hind legs among other real visions of animals outside her window while her husband thinks she’s crazy. At least there's more humor here than in Cars. The plot eventually turns more adventurous as the animals must defeat Dag the Coyote (Koechner). Unfortunately, none of the animals are particularly memorable and the CGI-animation is decent, but nothing to boast about. The main problem here is that the movie gradually becomes ho-hum and the humor runs dry. Writer/director Steve Oedekerk keeps the plot simple and understandable for young kids with generally likable characters, but older kids and adults will finds themselves to be only mildly entertained.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Barnyard does have a positive message about growing up which includes taking responsibility and being well-behaved. By the satisfying ending, Otis learns valuable lessons which help to change him thanks to his father’s words of wisdom.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None, as long as you suspend your disbelief—especially given that these animals can talk, walk on their hind legs and that the male cows have udders.


IN A NUTSHELL: A mildly entertaining film with a positive message for kids.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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