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Barnyard Reviews

Moooove along, there's nothing to see here! With its blatant disregard for the laws of nature, gravity and good humor, this animated adventure is little more than a series of gags involving characters that look uncannily like escapees from Gary Larsen's The Far Side comic strip, loosely strung to the plot of THE LION KING. Boy cow Otis (voice of Kevin James), a fun-loving guy — adults are bound to enjoy explaining that actually male cows have no udders — who ditches his bovine responsibilities at every turn and constantly disappoints his father, Ben (Sam Elliott), with his love of cell phones and other human gadgets. Ben, the self-appointed guardian of all the farm animals, watches nightly for coyotes while Otis is more concerned with being the life of the party. He's the first to announce when the farmer has left the property — the animals' cue to stand up on their hind legs and start talking — and is always game for adventures like stealing a car to go boy-tipping or inventing hill surfing on a block of ice. He's especially distracted by new heifer on the block Daisy (Courtney Cox) who, though pregnant, is available and interested in the hard-partying Otis. Her best pal, Bessy (Wanda Sykes), wisely warns against getting involved with such a goofball. One starry night, Otis begs Ben to take his watch, and while he's boogying at the barn (which has been transformed into an after-hours hotspot), Ben finds himself besieged by coyotes determined to raid the henhouse. He succeeds in scaring them off, but the effort takes its toll and slacker Otis must either step up or skip town. There are a few funny sight gags, including a bull (a real bull, not a boy cow, just adding to the film's biological confusion) riding a mechanical human, and the elaborate gopher underground is entertaining. But too much of this film is awfully familiar, notably Freddy the Ferret (Cam Clark), who's very nearly a carbon copy of ICE AGE's Sid the Sloth. Overall, there are too few laughs for a so-called comedy; the blatant lack of originality feels a little insulting; and the characters aren't cute and cuddly enough to inspire stuffed animals or other marketable toys — and let's face it, that's half the point of kiddie films.