George Orwell should get a percentage of Barnyard, an udderly uninspiring addition to this year's animated moo-vie herd set on an Animal Farm markedly similar to the one in his classic satire. There the similarities end, however. Any serious intent is swiftly slaughtered in favour of a bland coming-of-age tale involving an irresponsible young heifer (Kevin James) forced to shoulder adult responsibility. Two legs may indeed be baaaa-d, but on the evidence of Steve Oedekerk's toon four legs aren't much better.
Disney's Home On The Range was certainly no classic, but at least it knew that cows are generally female. Barnyard doesn't even get that right, equipping James' feckless Otis, his stern father Ben (Sam Elliott) and the rest of their cud-chewing cronies with pendulous teats that would probably be quite amusing were they not so anatomically preposterous. Still, since these bovines also surf, drive cars and play guitar, let alone prance the night away while their oblivious owner is sleeping, it hardly seems fair to accuse Ace Ventura helmer Oedekerk of implausibility.
"SCARCELY A DROP OF ORIGINALITY"
Creative bankruptcy, though, is something he's definitely guilty of, with the tiresome hi-jinks and climactic farm-versus-coyote showdown doing little to dispel the feeling of déjà vu. The Nickelodeon team milk their scenario for all its worth, but - rather like those redundant nipples - can scarcely squeeze a drop of originality or freshness. The result is a picture that, for all its brash energy and flashes of surrealism (rapping rodent, anyone?), deserves to be hanging in the nearest meat locker.