The Barnyard

Stars: Kevin James, Courteney Cox

Director: Steve Odekerk

Rating: PG

* (out of five)

I’m trying to come up with something positive to say about the animated farm comedy Barnyard, but I’m coming up dry. Um ... Sam Elliott makes a good cow, I guess.

Barnyard runs about an hour and a half, and it’s projected on 35-mm film and everything, but there’s really no sense that it’s a movie. It’s a feature-length collection of silly ideas and really ugly character designs, slapped together by writer-director Steve Oedekerk — the guy responsible for that awful martial-arts comedy Kung Pow:

Enter The Fist and those silly Thumb Wars DVDs — in what couldn’t have been more than a month.

So there’s this farm, right, and the animals can walk upright and speak English, except when the farmer’s around. They party a lot, and the biggest party animal of all is Otis (voiced by Kevin James), a carefree goofball who’s constantly telling his more serious-minded dad (that’d be Elliott) that he’ll get around to being responsible one of these days.

As anyone who’s ever seen The Lion King could tell you, life gets in the way — well, actually, it’s coyotes — and Otis has to face that responsibility sooner than he’d like. Also there’s a romantic complication in the form of a pregnant heifer (Courteney Cox) who has shown up on the farm with her sassy friend (Wanda Sykes).

That thin grain of story is buried beneath a barrage of pointless barn dances, fight scenes and musical numbers, all so sloppily orchestrated it’s hard to believe this movie was worth releasing.

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