In this computer-animated tale, goof-off cow Otis (Kevin James) must take charge of the barnyard's animals when coyotes kill Otis' father (Sam Elliott). Also featuring the voices of Courteney Cox, Danny Glover and Wanda Sykes.
Big question: Will these farm animals offer more laughs and adventure than the zoo critters from "The Wild"?
Skip it: This is just another decently animated story of the things animals do when we're not looking, and the movie bounces between ordinary moral lessons of responsibility and redundant scenes of the characters partying. Nearly every joke lays an egg.
Catch it: If you think silent birth is the way to go. TomKat would be pleased by the eerily quiet scene of a calf being born.
Bottom line: The film doesn't commit to a consistently kid-friendly or adult style of humor, so it's hard to know how to react to strange sight gags like cows drinking milk and a withered old dog playing the banjo with his last ounce of strength. For what it's worth, these images are so weird and out of place that you can't help but wonder what oddity "Barnyard" will throw at you next.
Bonus: You haven't heard Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "I Won't Back Down" until you've heard it performed by a singing cow. (Thankfully the movie resists doing a cutesy, baby chicken-rendition of "Learning to Fly.")
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Written and directed by Steve Oedekerk; lead animation supervised by David Andrews; edited by Billy Weber and Paul D. Calder; music by John Debney; produced by Oedekerk and Paul Marshal. A Paramount Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:23. MPAA rating: PG (for some mild peril and rude humor).
Otis - Kevin James
Daisy - Courteney Cox
Ben - Sam Elliott
Miles - Danny Glover
Bessy - Wanda Sykes
Etta - Andie MacDowell
Dag - David Koechner