Barnyard applies the familiar adage about kids playing when their parents are away to farmers and their livestock, then stretches out its one-note premise impossibly thin; it probably goes unsaid that all the good jokes are in the trailer. Either the animators considered their contribution to the bovine species (a male cow) a witty act of Lamarckian subversion or the idea of a Mexican-American mouse (here’s to you Speedy!) jumping back and forth between a pig’s belly and a bull’s boner was a harsh affront to Saturday-morning refinement. Spike Lee may take insult with the casting of Danny Glover as a mule that repeatedly knocks out the story’s vegan farmer on what appears to be the man’s 40 acres, or the fat-black-and-ugly rat with cheese-shaped bling around his neck who sings Shaggy’s “Boombastic” during one of several party-happenin’ raves. There’s also Wanda Sykes as a sassy pregnant heifer, “Jersey cows” (Guidos, that is—also male and with udders), mafioso gophers, and a nelly horse who runs offstage after his Lord of the Hoof routine is cut mercifully short. This is all to say that there’s a little bit of insult here for everyone. Except, that is, for the it’s-only-a-cartoon crowd: They’re blind to everything, and as such are unlikely to tag the film for the bargain-basement Lion King that it is (see the astrological happy-ending for confirmation) or recognize that the only remotely cool character here—an unidentified animal kept in a box that bops around to cotton-eye-Joe techno—is really a gene splice of the Tazmanian Devil and Captain Caveman. This is the most dubious animation since Robert Zemeckis’s creepy The Polar Express, only uglier, lazier, and with a more indisputable racist streak.
- Steve Oedekerk
- Steve Oedekerk
- Kevin James, Courteney Cox, Sam Elliott, Danny Glover, Wanda Sykes, Andie MacDowell, David Koechner
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