Barnyard
PG
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +2 1/2

Kevin James, Courteney Cox, Sam Elliott, Danny Glover, Andie MacDowell, Wanda Sykes. Written and Directed by Steve Oedekerk (writer of The Nutty Professor and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, the latter of which he also directed).

From Steve Oedekerk and Nickelodeon Movies, two of the co-creators of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and filmed entirely in CGI, comes this look at what really happens in a barnyard when the farmers back is turned. Otis (voiced by Kevin James) is a carefree party cow who enjoys singing, dancing and playing tricks on humans. Unlike his more serious father, Ben (voiced by Sam Elliott), the respected patriarch of the farm, and Miles, the wise old mule (voiced by Danny Glover), Otis is unconcerned with life responsibilities and placing others before himself. Bens motto: A strong man stands up for himself; a stronger man stands up for others. Otis doesnt get that until tragedy strikes, whereupon he is forced to consider his dads wise directive.

Question: I know Im a city boy, but there arent male cows are there? I mean, the male of that species dont have udders, do they? Here all the boy cows have udders. I realize its supposed to be a joke, kinda like the poultry having teeth in Chicken Run. And I reckon the anatomical incorrectness is no stranger than the fact that all the animals walk upright and talk. Heck, they even break into a humans home, then escape, driving the familys car. Still, I couldnt help thinking about the millions of little girls who must have had a disturbing reaction the first time they undressed a Barbie. This should freak em out even more.

Some sequences are colorful, full of lively music and stuffed with humor aimed at its intended audience little kids. Whats more, despite the fact that it takes place on the farm, which would have been a setting for some crude scatological humor that most filmmakers couldnt have resisted, Mr. Oedekerk generally does.

Barnyard is clean, and, at times, amusing for kids. However, it also has several melancholy lulls and what seemed to me as an excessive amount of violence. Its not Miami Vice, mind you, but the violent imagery is not merely derived from slapstick shenanigans. Several times menacing coyotes are battled, causing a few unsettling moments. Ben, whom we have all gotten to care about, is killed by the attacking coyotes as he defends other farm animals. Though death is a part of life and has been included in animated films clear back to Bambi, its a story element that must be handled carefully or the tone of the film suffers, as it does here. These frequent sad moments (we also hear the story about the female leads loss of her husband) caused many of the audience tykes to fidget and search for more lively amusement, such as running up and down the aisle. The other reaction was put into a question: I overheard a little girl ask what was happening when Ben died. Parents, prepare to do some explaining.

Fun fact: Barnyards writer/director, Steve Oedekerk, is a dedicated Christian and here he has made a film with positive life messages, one that avoids crudity (very rare today). I just wish he would have avoided the violence as well as he did the crudity.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Paramount

Summary
Crude Language: One or two minor crudities; we see a mean kids back, his jeans hanging just a little too low a visual that brought lots of laughs from kids.
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Coyotes threaten chickens and attack Ben, which leads to his death. They later attack Otis, wounding him.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: Oh, please. Dont get me started on those male udders.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: A farmer is drinking from a can. Though it does not show a label, the implication is that it is beer.
Other: Parents should attend with their littlest ones in order to alleviate any fears when the film deals with fearsome attacks and the subject of death.
Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Little kids

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