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Barnyard
1.5/5
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Steve Oedekerk
voices Kevin James, Courteney Cox, Sam Elliott, Danny Glover, Wanda Sykes, Andie MacDowell, David Koechner, Jeffrey Garcia, Cam Clarke, Rob Paulsen, Tino Insana, Dom Irrera
release US 4.Aug.06, UK 20.Oct.6
06/US Paramount 1h30

Joyride: Otis and pals hit the road

james cox glover

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Barnyard There are problems with virtually every aspect of this extraneous animated feature--the design is uninteresting, the characters are bland and the story is terrible. Sure, it's lively enough to keep children (and stupid adults) entertained, but it's still awful.

Otis the cow (voiced by James) is a party animal, shirking his responsibilities to play pranks with his pals and whoop it up in nightly barn-dances the critters organise when the (conveniently vegan) farmer's asleep. But Otis' father (Elliott) wants his son to take over as leader when he's gone. And the farm is being threatened by a vicious coyote (Koechner) and his gang. Then a cute pregnant cow (Cox) arrives to distract Otis further.

Sigh. Everything in this film is painfully simplistic. The story never makes sense, plodding through various unfunny antics to the next clunky plot point while wallowing in syrupy sentiment at every opportunity. Meanwhile, the dialog and vocal work is surprisingly dull for a cast of this calibre; there's not a whiff or personality anywhere.

And worst of all, the film's design is cheap and tacky, as none of these animals look or act anything like their real-world counterparts. It's lazy and slapdash--not necessarily cheap, but profoundly unimaginative. Why, for example, do they continually refer to the bulls as cows? Perhaps it's because they all have swollen udders. Biology teachers will spend years trying to correct this and many other bizarre touches.

That's not to say it's completely worthless. There are a few hilarious gags and some especially good one-liners. But they're few and far between. Everything else is forced and contrived, straining for the comedy without even a hint of wit. None of the animals is remotely comical, which is odd. You expect one character to emerge as a wacky scene-stealer, but it never happens. You expect the story to take off, but it never does. Especially undemanding children might be distracted by the colourful goofiness. But the adults will be rooting for the coyotes. In a year that's seen far too many animated films already, this is perhaps the worst of the bunch. So far.

cert PG suspense, some vulgarity 1.Oct.06

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2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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