Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Movie Log: Barnyard

I gave the boys a choice this weekend: I said that we'd go see something in the theater for Boys Movie Saturday (a tradition I recommend to anyone who has kids all day only one or two days a week), and they could pick Monster House (which I was hoping for; it looks like the best of the current crop), The Ant Bully (which they were all excited about a week ago) or Barnyard.

As you might have guessed, they picked Barnyard.

Since my mother always told me to be positive, we'll start with the good points:
  • It's vocally well-cast; the biggest roles are played by people like Kevin James and Sam Elliott. No major celebrities, no stunt casting, no one's name above the title; just actors chosen because they're right for the part. That's actually refreshing in an animated movie these days, when even Pixar is trotting out a tarted-up Paul Newman vehicle. (And I saw some great voice-over names in the credits, like Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche, which I also like to see: those people are just better at this than random movie actors are.)
  • The backgrounds are gorgeous, and generally very realistic, while the character designs are more stylized in an interesting way. The characters do look a bit plastic-y, but it seems to be intentional. And the hyper-detailed background combined with cartoony foreground figures style has been very successful for a whole lot of cartoonists and animators over the years. The human characters in particular are amazingly grotesque, in a Jimmy Neutron-esque way, but it works.
  • And it's not very long.
OK, now that I've got that out of the way, I can get to the meat of it: the story sucks. It's incredibly derivative, completely predictable, and often stupid. Several times the movie turns into an idiot plot (as when our hero the cow goes off to fight a pack of coyotes on his own instead of organizing a team of other animals because...well, I think it's just because that's what always happens in dumb movies like this). So it's a nice-looking stretch of celluloid that's impossible to believe in or take seriously as a movie. Nice pictures, though.

I can't recommend that anyone see this movie unless your kids are dragging you to it. But, if they do, try not to spend too much time thinking about the story; just listen to the soothing sound of Sam Elliott's voice and look at the very pretty pictures.


Anonymous said...

our hero the cow goes off to fight a pack of coyotes on his own

I've only seen the trailers for this movie, but...male cows, with udders, uhm, what?

So did the animators decide the alternative was pornographic, since the animals would be on their hind legs? Nope, can't draw that, let's stick udders on them instead?

It's just bizarre.

Larc said...

That's a major complaint about this movie. Still can't believe this got by the fact-checker-type people!!

Andrew Wheeler said...

Yes, Barnyard has both boy-cows and girl-cows, and they look pretty much identical, with udders and everything. One could explain this away somehow, except for the fact that there's a real bull in the background at the end of the movie.

So, in Barnyard-land, there are bulls, and he-cows, and she-cows. Like many other things in this movie, it just doesn't pay to think too much about it.

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