BARNYARD: THE ORIGINAL PARTY ANIMALS
Starring: THE VOICES OF Kevin James,
Courtney Cox, Sam Elliott,
Danny Glover, Wanda Sykes,
Andie MacDowell, David
Koechner, and Jeffrey Garcia
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 90 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Steve Oedekerk
Executive Producer: Julia Pistor and Aaron Parry
Producer: Steve Oedekerk and Paul
Writer: Steve Oedekerk
Address Comments To:Brad Grey, Chairman/CEO
Gail Berman, President
Motion Picture Group
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197
Phone: (323) 956-5000
Otis talks his father into taking his shift as nightly guard of the barnyard and proceeds to the barn, where there is a makeshift bar complete with barrels of milk and honey, a stage, a band, wild music of all kinds, dancing, gambling, poker playing and ‘party animal” behavior. Ben is later killed by the coyotes while protecting the chicken coop. Otis is voted in as the perfect barnyard resident to take over his fathers position of being in charge, and he reluctantly accepts his new position, trying to make it his own.
As the barnyard grows out of control, Otis feels the burden of caring for his barnyard fighting against his desire to continue in his pagan, hedonistic lifestyle. He struggles with filling the BIG shoes left by his father, as he realizes his selflessness and the great man that his father was. He learns that “the best leader is the one who cares the most,” from a new pregnant cow who was rescued from a flood and brought as a new resident to the barnyard. Otis quickly develops a relationship with Daisy and is encouraged by her to be the best that he can be.
As the coyotes continue their attacks and threaten the barnyard, Otis must decide between meeting his own needs or seeing the needs of others as a greater purpose.
BARNYARD has laugh out-loud moments as well as moments that evoke tears. The characters are well developed, and engaging, and many smaller plots are evident. One example is a weasel struggling against his own baser instincts trying to not eat his friends from the barnyard. Another is a mouse who struggles with what it means to stand by your friend. Finally, an old and wise mule directs Otis in his quest to find and take his proper place in the barnyard and learn to “Stand his ground.”
What helps make BARNYARD work is the voice work by such actors as Kevin James as Otis, Sam Elliott as Ben, Danny Glover as Miles the Mule, Courtney Cox as Daisy the Cow, and Jeffrey Garcia as Pip the Mouse. Amid all the jokes and crazy behavior, a solid story about a caring group of characters emerges. The animation is serviceable and could have used some of the beauty, sheen and detail of the JIMMY NEUTRON movie, another Paramount cartoon movie from Nickelodeon.
Despite the strong positive messages in this movie, there are many problems and moral difficulties. There is unanswered stealing, glamorized gambling, drinking, sneaking out, disobeying the rules, defiance against authority, a strong party mentality, drinking, poking fun in one brief scene at those who might struggle with issues of mental health, using alcohol to tune out an annoying wife, unanswered destruction of property, and some obnoxious, but brief, potty humor.
The animation is Nickelodeon style, and very inaccurate with bulls not being bulls but unnatural “male” cows with udders, the udders are greatly oversized and very obnoxious and exaggerated. One wonders what the filmmakers might have been thinking in creating this transgendered bovine species. This is, of course "udderly silly" (pardon the bad pun), but, still, the male cows or bulls with udders behaved like males and there were no references or even insinuations of homosexuality. Attraction was very clearly between male and female. The characters in the movie spoke very fast making it hard at times to understand the dialogue. The story in BARNYARD was effective in emoting feeling and connection with the characters.
Ultimately, despite the off-color and bizarre elements, including a sequence about stealing a car and getting revenge on a mean human boy, BARNYARD contains a strong moral worldview through much of its conflict. The movie stresses responsibility, mercy, protection of the weak, maturity, good parenting, caring, and good leadership. Positive moral statements also are made such as: "A strong man stands up for himself, a stronger man stands up for others"; and, "The best leader isn't the biggest leader or the strongest. The best leader is the one who cares the most." The movie also has a pro-adoption message.
The fighting scenes with the scary coyotes and miscellaneous elements may be too much for younger children, however. Even so, pointing out the story's positive moral messages will help media-wise parents encourage all their children to focus on how we all can be better, responsible and caring people. Also, tell your children that in reality there is no such thing as a male cow. A male cow is a bull so the movie has created a new transgendered bovine.
BARNYARD has some laugh out loud moments and moments that bring you to tears. Sadly, it has some difficulties, including property destruction, stealing, gambling, drunkenness, and the fact that there is no such thing as a “male” cow in nature. The humor is sometimes crude, but the main story and messages are moral and uplifting. The movie stresses responsibility, mercy, protection of the weak, maturity, good parenting, caring, and good leadership. It also has a pro-adoption message. The fighting scenes with the coyotes and other elements may be too much for younger children, however.