Saturday, August 26, 2006


The Goofy Animal Farm

Talking animals. Only in animation do you get away with having animals exhibit identifiable human traits, and speak like we do. Of late, with the success of many Disney and Pixar movies, this year alone we'll see a bumper crop of talking animals in animated flicks from successful ones like Over the Hedge, to complete flops like The Wild, and have in the wings, an Open Season Flushed Away with Happy Feet.

And we have here, a George Orwell Animal Farm gone totally wrong. While the animals here exhibit similar traits as suggested in the literary classic - they hold regular town hall meetings, have a system of governance and work ethics, these animals prefer to walk on twos, and have cows leading the pack rather than pigs (and the widely held belief that they are lazy). Best of all, they are the perennial party animals, in both sense of the description. They party all night long in the barnyard, transforming it to their discotheque, and strut around the farm on their hind legs when the farmer goes away.

However, this movie is a lost sheep, meaning baaaad. The story doesn't have a clue to its direction, and because the plot is running around like a headless chicken, the movie, at best, is made up of disparate scenes jointed together rather haphazardly. It lacks a good story to tell, seemingly borrowing familiar elements from The Lion King, and even the weak idea from Chicken Little about the relationship between father and son - here between the Cows son Otis (Kevin James from Hitch) and Ben (Sam Elliot), who heads the farm.

Writer-Director Steve Oedekerk, who wrote the screenplay for comedies like Bruce Almighty and The Nutty Professor, seem to fall short of providing the laughs for the animals. The best bits are sadly all provided for in the movie's trailer with the animals' gags on the human characters, and what's left in the movie are the less than powerful dramatic bits. Every sub theme or sub plot seem to be a quick hack job just to extend the run time, and doesn't add any depth to character or story.

The only saving grace to the Barnyard is the perfect animation, which is pristine, crystal clear, and too polished for its own good, and somehow lacked heart and soul. It is one thing to have excellent art, but it seemed more of a cover for the lack of a sustainable engaging story.

Watch it only if your kids bug you to bring them to the movie, especially since cutesy chick characters are used as bait. And oh, somehow watching cows strutting around on two legs and exposing their udders, seem kinda sick, and especially so when these cows are supposed to be bulls, and are mistaken by kids as "mother cows". Great start for the young ones on gender bending.

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