Movie Reviews

Barnyard: The Original Party Animals

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 4 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Kevin James as Otis (voice)
Courteney Cox as Daisy (voice)
Sam Elliott as Ben the cow (voice)
Danny Glover as Miles (voice)
Wanda Sykes as Bessy the cow (voice)
Rob Paulsen as Gopher/Peck the rooster (voice)
Andie MacDowell as Etta the hen (voice)
Maria Bamford as Mrs. Beady (voice)
S. Scott Bullock as Eddie the Jersey Cow
Paul Butcher as Elvis - Singing Chicken
Megan Cavanagh as Hanna the hen (voice)
Cam Clarke as Freddy the ferret (voice)
John Di Maggio as Budd the Jersey Cow/Officer O'Hanlon (voice)
Earthquake as Root the rooster (voice)
Jeffrey Garcia as Pip the mouse (voice)
Tino Insana as Pig (voice)
Dom Irrera as Duke the dog (voice)
David Koechner as Dag the Coyote (voice)
Maurice LaMarche as Igg the Jersey Cow (voice)
Madeline Lovejoy as Maddy the chick (voice)
Steve Oedekerk as Mr. Beady/Snotty Boy/Snotty Boy's Father (voice)
Zo Raye as Little Girl (Voice Talent)
Jill Talley as Snotty boy's mother (voice)

Summary:
"Barnyard: The Original Party Animals" just isn't that funny. The few amusing moments it has are offset by rather scary moments and cheesy, sappy moments. Young kids might enjoy it, but parents will probably get bored fast.

Story:
Otis is a cow living on a farm and he loves to goof off and party. His father, Ben, would like him to be responsible and lead the other farm animals, but Otis isn't interested. Unfortunately, Otis finds himself thrust into the leadership role when coyotes kill his father. Will Otis become a responsible bovine or will he rock and roll all night and party every day?

"Barnyard: The Original Party Animals" is rated PG for some mild peril and rude humor.

What Worked:
"Barnyard" does actually have a few funny moments and the good news is that you can see most of them for free in the commercials and trailers. One high point that isn't seen is a moment where the farmer accidentally discovers that his animals can walk, talk, and party. He promptly gets knocked out cold by Miles the Mule. It's a great scene but it doesn't make the rest of the film worth putting up with.

As far as the voices go, Kevin James does prove that he's good at animation voice work. He has a great voice for Otis and he brings the irresponsible bovine to life. The other established voice actors like Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche give the film a lot of life, too, and make some of the more unique characters in the movie.

What Didn't Work:
Let me get this out of the way right out of the gate cows are females, bulls are males. The male bovines in this movie shouldn't have udders (unless those weren't udders, and the less that's pondered, the better). The creators of this film must have never stepped onto a farm in their lives. I realize cows don't walk or talk either, but they could have at least got the anatomy right.

All technical gripes aside, this movie wasn't all that great. The primary problem is that it varies widely in tone. In one scene the cows are doing incredibly silly, cartoony stunts. In the next scene, everything turns dark, rainy, and downright frightening. Coyotes (who resemble werewolves more than dogs) descend on the farm and attack the characters. I was actually quite shocked at just how scary it turned. Parents of small children should pay attention to the PG rating. The film then turns silly again, then turns dramatic once more as Otis battles the coyotes. The film then takes another wild turn and becomes sappy as all the barnyard animals gather around to watch Courteney Cox's character give birth. An uncomfortably long and voyeuristic birth scene then takes place before the movie concludes. It was just all over the map and never was very good at any tone it attempted.

"Barnyard" also ventures firmly into the realm of cheese a few times, the most notable is when Ben plays a guitar, starts singing Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down," and goes into battle with the coyotes. If that wasn't groan-worthy enough, they do it again when Otis inevitably battles the coyotes. I desperately wanted out of the theater at that point. Another cheesy character is a hairy unexplained furball named "Mike" that goes insane and dances crazily to the music from those Six Flags commercials with the creepy old man. He appears a couple of times but they never say what he is or why he's on a farm.

I will also add that by the end of the film, I thought the plot seemed awfully familiar. It was then that I realized "Barnyard" was very similar to "The Lion King." Both films have irresponsible sons whose father dies, thus forcing them to leave behind their childish ways and take on the mantle of leadership. The coyotes were similar to the hyenas. The rooster and pig were similar to Timon and Pumbaa. Both films had characters in the stars and both films ended in the births of new sons. The only real difference was the time, setting, and a couple of the gags.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I didn't enjoy "Barnyard."

The Bottom Line:
This movie just wasn't that great. I'll admit that my young children enjoyed it, but there are plenty of other films out there that we enjoyed all together as a family. If you have a choice, go see "Monster House" or "The Ant Bully" instead.

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