"Barnyard" is the kind of animated movie that comes once in a blue moon. A film that promises to be hilarious and filled with lots of funny humor and heartwarming moments for both parents and children to enjoy and yet fails at almost every aspect. The film was made by Nickelodeon in 2006 and was the launch of a new animated series that ran for a couple of years and yet unlike their previous success "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" which also launched a hit show after a successful Oscar-nominated movie, this film failed to recapture the magic in such a spectacular fashion. I will say that I was entertained by the film, but not for the reasons the filmmakers intended. I was amazed watching this film fail as badly as it did that I couldn't help but laugh at how bad it was. This is the kind of animated movie that is so badly made and the choices are so ridiculous that I was laughing throughout most of the film.
When the farmer leaves the barnyard to do some work in the fields, the farm animals on his farm mostly do whatever they want when he's not around. One of the bulls on the farm named Otis (Kevin James) has been living a carefree life and has mostly been lollygagging with his friends Pig (Tino Isana), a mouse named Pip (Jeffery Garcia), a ferret named Freddy (Cam Clarke), and a rooster named Peck (Rob Paulsen) much to the dismay of his father Ben (Sam Elliott). While Ben wants Otis to take responsibility and step up, Otis continues to party and have fun which only disappoints his father further. One day though, cayotes led by their leader Dag (David Koechner) attack the farm and end up killing Ben. With his father gone, Otis has to step up and become a leader and figure out how to lead the farm properly.
This film really made me laugh, but not for the reasons the filmmakers wanted me to. It was clear that Nickelodeon and director Steve Oderekerk were trying to make a hilarious animated comedy for both kids and parents to enjoy and yet they failed in such a spectacular fashion that the film astonished me while I was watching it. I couldn't comprehend how any of the decisions made in this film could've worked in the end. The story for the most part is exceptionally stale and dry. It's the story we've seen before of the lollygagging protagonist trying to step up and become a leader at the end of the film and yet it all comes off feeling so tiresome. The scenes play out in a way we've seen before and don't come off as anything creative or interesting. I will give the film this. It does have some nice dramatic moments with some that aren't too bad. I do think they could've been a little more polished but they certainly not terribly handled. The comedy on the other hand is another story. I have no idea who this comedy is intended for as it's too adult for kids and too childish for adults. It ends up appealing to no one in the end and just left me laughing at how confused the jokes demographic was. As far as the animation goes, it's pretty bad. There is some nice scenery throughout the film, but unfortunately, the shots in this film are badly designed. The way the camera moves across the sets feels so limited and stale which shows in one of the opening scenes of the film. What really sinks the animation though are the character designs. Most of the farm animals don't look terrible, but the humans in the film look extremely ugly. I don't know if that was the filmmaker's intent or not, but it made the film not work. Though the ultimate problem with the designs is easily the cows. The filmmakers didn't do their homework when designing these characters as every single cow including the males, has udders. If you know anything about farm animals, you know that male cows don't have udders. They have horns. I have no idea how the filmmakers could screw up such a major detail like that. It could be that they thought that children would have no idea that the bulls were also cows, but it would've been an interesting fact to teach them if they didn't do that. What a missed opportunity. As far as the characters go, their all pretty bad as well and mostly waste talented actors. I was shocked looking at the cast that actors like Courtney Cox, Wanda Sykes, Danny Glover, and Sam Elliot signed onto this film. I don't know what they saw in this film, but they sure didn't bring much to these characters. For the most part, all of them are pretty forgettable and dry. Otis is probably the exception, but for the wrong reasons. You know that you're in for a bad sign when Kevin James is the star of your film and he plays the same character I've seen him play in other films. Not to mention, it's really hard to root for Otis when he constantly is partying all the time. Immediately after his father is killed, the animals throw a party and Otis is in on it. Not to mention later in the film, he and three other cows steal a car and decide to go out on a joyride. Our hero ladies and gentlemen. I also want to briefly talk about the soundtrack as well. It's a mess. Most of the choices either feel out of place or just come off as generic. For example, when Ben battles the coyotes', Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" is playing in the background. It just comes off feeling weird and so out of place when you have characters fighting to a song that's not exactly intense.
Honestly, "Barnyard" is such a mess that it came off as funny. The story is messy and unimpressive, the animation is bad and has some major character design problems, and the characters are forgettable. This is easily one of Nickelodeon's worst animated movies, but I can't deny that I had a fun time watching it. It just wasn't for the reasons the filmmakers intended. This film is such a mess and is so crazily made that it just made me laugh. I certainly wouldn't recommend this film, but if you're curious enough to watch it, be sure to go in with the mindset that you're gonna watch something crazy.