Barnyard - Review
Review by Jack Foley
A TALENTED vocal cast can’t compensate for the lack of enjoyment offered by Barnyard, a yawn-inducing animated adventure that’s designed to take a comical look at what happens on a farm when the farmer isn’t looking.
Directed by Steve Oedekerk (of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls fame) and produced by Nickelodeon (of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius) the film simply lacks the imagination needed to keep things interesting, relying on tired plot devices and too many songs to sustain its momentum.
Hence viewers are left to wait for long periods of time between each chuckle, while counting down the minutes to the inevitable plot contrivances.
The film focuses on young Otis (voiced by Kevin ‘Hitch’ James), a carefree party cow (with an alarming set of udders) who’d rather sing, dance and play tricks on humans than follow the advice of his father, Ben (Sam Elliott), and prepare for the role of patriarch.
When Ben is killed trying to defend the farm’s hens from a pack of hungry wolves, however, it’s left to Otis to take up the position of responsibility and display the leadership qualities so respected by his colleagues. But Otis isn’t ready for the challenge and his lack of discipline soon places the rest of the farm’s inhabitants at the top of the wolves’ menu.
Needless to say, Barnyard borrows heavily from the likes of Disney’s The Lion King, while attempting to tip its hat to contemporary trends for shows like X Factor. As a result, it’s frequently broken up with musical numbers, most of which try to imitate recent pop hits with varying degrees of success.
Had it relied on a few more of the sight gags that make its trailer so funny, it may have fared better. For the film does have the odd moment that rises above the average, such as the sight of Otis taunting a postman while his back is turned, or getting revenge on some precocious kids after they’ve indulged in a spot of cow-tipping.
Rather than having the courage to play things a little more risky, however, it relies too much on formula and becomes far too preachy for its own good. Even the children I saw it with on a Sunday morning eventually became restless.
The result is an udderly average experience that could – and should – have been a lot more amooo-sing!
Running time: 84mins