Barnyard

Rated PG 2006

Even an advanced case of critter fatigue shouldn't stop you from rushing out to see this delightfully cheeky animated tale of a farm full of good but misguided beasts under siege from wily coyotes and their own social disarray. Protected by wise, brave old cow Ben (voiced by Sam Elliott), the animals, egged on by Ben's irresponsible party cow of a son, Otis (Kevin James), spend their time boogeying -- until Ben goes the way of all benign parents in studio movies, leaving the barnyard a rudderless ship and forcing Otis to consider mending his prodigal-son ways with only a clapped-out horse (Danny Glover) to mentor him. As earnest as this sounds, Barnyard, written and directed by Steve Oedekerk of Ace Ventura fame, is jazzed by breezy irreverence and a mischievous use of rock and roll. The giddily indeterminate approach to bovine gender -- Otis is as generously endowed with udder as is the pregnant lady cow (Courteney Cox) for whom he falls with a thud -- and charmingly sappy adoption subtext lend ample appeal to this decidedly non-Orwellian story of four legs good, two legs irrelevant.

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