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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, October 30, 2014 - Edition No 921 

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BARNYARD: THE ORIGINAL PARTY ANIMALS

SYNOPSIS:
Young cow Otis (voice of Kevin James) enjoys the carefree life, playing the clown with his barnyard friends Miles the Mule (voice of Danny Glover), Etta the Hen (voice of Andie MacDowell) and Duke the Dog (voice of Dom Irrera). His adoptive father Ben the Cow (voice of Sam Elliott) tries to instill in him a sense of responsibility, but for Otis, hanging out with his friends and Daisy (voice of Courteney Cox) the pretty new cow, has much more appeal. When Ben is killed by Dag the Coyote (voice of David Koechner) and his pack, Otis finds himself nominated as leader, a role for which he needs to find some courage.

Review by Louise Keller:
To get into Barnyard, the first hurdle is the fact that the cow protagonist is, in fact, a male. I doubt even Gary Larson, who elevated the humble cow through his quirky cartoons, would approve of Steve Oedekerk's gender-bending concept. This central and key issue is a moo-numental hiccup to the otherwise zany and inventive animated film that shows life in the Barnyard as we have never seen it before. Fantasy is the logical explanation for animals that talk, sing and dance in animated films, but parents will be hard pressed to explain male cows, whose masculinity does not seem to be compromised by their prominent pink udders. In many ways the film is too clever for its own good as its theme of standing up for yourself (and others) is reflected by a bevy of brightly painted barnyard animals prancing around on two legs. But four legs are only replaced by two, when humans are not watching.

If you are able to get past the male cow issue, there are other forms of incorrectness to overcome. Putting aside the fact that all humans are portrayed as drunks, paranoid or plain dumb, we are confronted by the not insignificant issue about Daisy, the pretty new girl-cow in the yard, who happens to be pregnant. Am I being pedantic to wonder why there is no mention of the father, who one would have to assume was a male-cow from another pasture? Or the implications when Otis courts Daisy, and rushes by her side as she is lying on her back about to give birth? Single parent-hood for cows is obviously not an issue.

Maybe I'm taking it all a bit too seriously. After all, some of the film steams ahead in the wacky humour stakes. There's a raucous hoedown in the barn, when the animals let their musical talents fly and the highlight joy ride when the cows steal a car and speed along the country road guzzling bottled milk. But it cannot possibly be seen to set any kind of example to the young target audience when Miles the Mule whacks the kindly, simpleton farmer several times on the head, to ensure he forgets what he has seen. And much of the film's humour plays like carefully constructed skits. The transformation of Otis the cow irresponsible into Otis the responsible leader cow is as unbelievable as the notion of a male cow. If this were to be rewritten as an R-rated gender bending transsexual barnyard romp, now that may be another story.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

BARNYARD: THE ORIGINAL PARTY ANIMALS (PG)
(US 2006)

VOICES: Kevin James, Courteney Cox, Sam Elliott, Danny Glover, Wanda Sykes, Andie MacDowell, David Koechner, Jefferey Garcia, Cam Clarke, Rob Paulsen, Tino Insana, Dom Irrera, S. Scott Bullock, John Di Maggio, Maurice LaMarche, Madeline Lovejoy

PRODUCER: Steve Oedekerk, Paul Marshal

DIRECTOR: Steve Oedekerk

SCRIPT: Steve Oedekerk

EDITOR: Paul D. Calder

MUSIC: John Debney

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Philip A. Cruden

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Tas: Sept 7; Vic: Sept 14; NSW Sept 21, 2006







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