Barnyard: The Original Party Animals

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Barnyard: The Original Party Animals
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Rated: PG
Cast: Kevin James, Courteney Cox Arquette, Danny Glover, Sam Elliott, Wanda Sykes
Director: Steve Oedekerk
WorkNameSort: Barnyard: The Original Party Animals
Our Rating: 2.00
Barnyard doesn't know if it wants to be another tiresomely 'hipâ?� piece of post-Shrek postmodernism or a comfortably traditional kids' movie that delivers family values without the self-conscious smirk. Writer-director Steve Oedekerk sticks his fast-talking, anthropomorphized critters in both milieus. Since he clearly lacks the knowing, clever humor of Shrek's satire, the only moments in Barnyard that work are, surprisingly, its Disneyfied sap. The central character is Otis the Cow (voiced by a stammering, unfunny Kevin James), the shiftless, hard-partying son of Ben (Sam Elliott), the leader of a wisecracking animal contingency that includes Duke the Dog (Dom Irrera), Etta the Hen (Andie McDowell) and Miles the Mule (Danny Glover). When Ben is mauled by a pack of villainous coyotes ' on Otis' neglectful watch ' his son has to finally come of age and take over as leader. The story follows every note of kids'-movie formula, right down to the death of a key parental figure a third of the way into the film, which is apparently the only way lessons can be learned in these things. The mourning sequences do pack some poignant pathos, and Otis' love interest, Daisy (Courteney Cox), is single and pregnant, indicating an always-welcome progressivism that's hardly evident elsewhere among the film's stereotypically ethnic animals. They're just a facet of Barnyard's totally uninspired humor, replete with dated references to COPS and Lord of the Dance.

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