Friday, January 05, 2007

Movie Review: Barnyard (a.k.a. "Bulls with teats")

Tonight we watched the animated movie Barnyard. The movie centers around a teenage cow named Otis, played by Kevin James (King Of Queens) who enjoys goofing around and taking nothing seriously. His father (Sam Elliott) is responsible for the safety of the farm animals and when something happens to dad Otis is thrust into a leadership position he's not ready for.

The story is completely familiar. In fact, it weaves a similar tale to Bugs Life, as Otis has to figure out a way to protect the barnyard from mean and hungry coyotes where in Bugs Life it was grasshoppers. Perhaps an even closer storyline is Chicken Run, since it involves chickens in peril and a goof-off assigned the task of protection. Overall the storyline was completely forgettable. It's been done.

What made this movie, however, were several things. First of all, the animals were drawn to look like squishy toys (see the pic). It was a very convincing bit of animation. You just wanted to reach up and squish them. Second was the party scenes. One major premise of the movie was that after the farmer went to bed, a complex arrangement of trapdoors, pulleys, and gadgets were used to instantly turn the barn into the scene of a serious hoe-down. Yes, again like Chicken run, but very well done. There was square dancing, stand-up comedy, musical performances, and even this strange "Cousin-It"-like dancing thing that roused up the joint.

Perhaps the best bit came when all the animals were having a rave party, and of course the nosy neighbor woman is peering out the window telling her husband, "Lou! Lou! I tell ya, that farmer's up to no good!!" The husband's response is priceless. I won't ruin it for you.

Of course, the attacking coyotes did a fine job of spoiling the moment for my easily-frightened five-year-old. Unfortunately the coyotes were not nearly as pragmatic or interesting as the grasshoppers from Bugs Life, but come on, we're talking Kevin Spacey versus David Koechner.

In the end, the kids got some major belly laughs, we watched some good animation, and there was a surprising lack of fart jokes. I'd give it a B+.

By the way, one thing bugged us as we watched this movie. Okay, so we're suburban folk and don't know nuttin' 'bout milking cows, but aren't males of the bovine species known as bulls? and do bulls have udders? I'm thinking not. And it turns out we're not the only ones thinking this.

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