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Barnyard - The Original Party Animals

A movie directed by Steve Oedekerk

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Life on the Farm

  • Feb 9, 2007
The first thing you need to know about BARNYARD all the cows in the movie have udders, including the males. That's right, even the bulls have udders (except for the bull that rides the man-riding machine--he's the only male cow who even looks like a bull). Director Steve Oedekerk has said that he wanted all the cows, even the males, to have udders because he thought it was incredibly funny. The idea is kind of humorous, but after a moment the juvenile joke loses its humor and the gag seems incredibly strange and bizarre. The male cows just don't look right and those udders are completely distracting; they should be covered up or something. Of course, the cows aren't the only creature in the BARNYARD that have little appearance to their real life counterparts. For example, there's a golden-colored ferret that lives on the farm who looks more like a cat than a ferret. He keeps envisioning his barnyard chicken friends as roasted birds. In the wild, ferrets prefer eating rodents and small underground-dwelling creatures to birds. Then there are the coyotes. In the movie, the coyotes live and hunt together in a massive pack. They are also portrayed as blood-thirsty creatures who are cunning and sly. In reality coyotes really don't hunt in packs and they aren't as vicious as wolves. Coyotes are scavengers and tend to eat dead or dying animals. These are the most obvious distinctions between the cartoon animals of BARNYARD and their real life counterparts, but there are several others. Which is kind of the point. The animals in BARNYARD aren't meant to be anything like real life animals. They are cartoon characters created solely for the purpose of amusement and entertainment. If you are able to understand that and view the film from a child's perspective, the movie is quite amusing.

Copying a storyline that Disney copied and perfected in THE LION KING, BARNYARD is about a cow named Otis (Kevin James) and how he became the protector of the farm barnyard. Otis is a cow who likes to have fun and party. When he first appears on screen he's preparing to slide down a hill on a surfboard tied to a block of ice. However, the board tips the wrong way and Otis and his friends go flying through the air. This is contrasted to his adopted father, Ben (Sam Elliot), who is the very organized leader of the animals in the barnyard. Ben knows his responsibility and he takes it quite seriously. Under Ben's leadership no animals on the farm have been killed by any predators, especially the coyotes. But the coyote pack has been growing in numbers and sneaks into the barnyard to steal some chickens while Otis and most of the other animals are having a major party in the barn. Ben comes to the rescue and saves the day, but at a great cost. Soon, Otis finds himself in charge and the barnyard goes chaotic. Even the coyotes think life will be more carefree with Otis in charge, but not if the farmer first discovers how his critters really live.

Besides the obvious similarities to THE LION KING, I also felt while watching BARNYARD that it seemed like a water-downed and cruder version of JIMMY NEUTRON. After watching the extras on the DVD, I learned that not only was the director the same guy who wrote the JIMMY NEUTRON movie, but that like JIMMY NEUTRON, BARNYARD is going to be a new series on Nickleodeon for Fall 2007.

Besides the distraction of the male cows' udders, BARNYARD is a pretty funny cartoon film. The most original thing about the film are the antics that the animals do when people aren't present: walking around, ordering pizza, throwing parties, boy-tipping, driving cars, etc. Even this idea isn't new, but it is done creatively in the movie. I enjoyed the movie and laughed a few times. I especially like the nighttime barnyard party scene.

The animation is clearly directed at children, but many of the jokes in the film will only be understood by older children and adults. Children will probably enjoy watching the film because of the animals and all the bright colors, but they won't understand much of the humor. Nevertheless, as far as I could tell, there wasn't anything overtly suggestive so it's a movie that if you can overlook the udders, most people in the family can enjoy watching together.

The DVD includes the usual filmmaker commentary. There are some deleted scenes, but none of them ever made it into the completed production phase. There are several featurettes including "Utter Talent-Voices of BARNYARD" that talks with most of the featured cast members, "Method Acting With Kevin James" which is a short of James learning how to be a cow from real live cows, and "An Animator's Life" which examines some of the people who made BARNYARD and their work environment. There are two music videos and several games as well as some picture pages.

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More Barnyard - The Original Party ... reviews
review by . February 08, 2007
The kids enjoyed this and I guess that's all that matters. To me this film at times feels like it was made by the Farrelly Brothers. It's slapstick humor and it's wildly nutty behavior that makes it look like an R-rated comedy, makes it all the while more funny The story is sort of like a parody of Lion King. Farmers on a farm are keeping animals under their eye and well protected. And animals pretty much behave like, well, animals. But what happens when the farmers out. Well, the party begins, …
review by . December 14, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Apart from borrowing liberally from the basic premise of the Lion King (an orphaned cow goes from party animal to protector, that even includes a pivotal scene when the father paints the child's destiny in the stars), this film attempts to be about fathers and sons, but the filmmakers appear to have been uneasy with a literal depiction of male bovines (i.e. bulls). So they compromised by making even the males into cows (they even called themselves cows), complete with udders and absent other distinguishing …
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When the farmer's back is turned, the animals party down inBarnyard. A young cow named Otis (voiced by Kevin James,The King of Queens) loves to have fun at the farm's wild late-night hoe-downs, despite the disapproval of his father, Ben (Sam Elliott,Thank You for Smoking). When Ben dies defending the barnyard from marauding coyotes, Otis is chosen as the new leader--but responsibility sits uneasily on Otis' head and he fears he may not be able to protect his friends from the coyotes.Barnyard's design of the cows seems inspired by Gary Larson'sThe Far Sidecomics; though the style is simple, the characters are surprisingly expressive. From moment to moment, the movie is reasonably entertaining. The actors--including Courteney Cox, Danny Glover, and David Koechner (Anchorman) as a very menacing coyote--do solid voice work and there are plenty of amusing gags. But asBarnyardgallops towards its end, the combination of cliches (the story is a clumsy reworking ofThe Lion King), odd choices (the male cows have udders), and lackluster dialogue makes the movie sag.--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Steve Oedekerk
Screen Writer: Steve Oedekerk
DVD Release Date: December 12, 2006
Runtime: 90 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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