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Western Animation / Barnyard

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What happens in the barn stays in the barn.

Barnyard (also marketed as Barnyard: The Original Party Animals) is a 2006 Nickelodeon animated comedy-drama film written, directed and produced by Steve Oedekerk (who also co-wrote and produced Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius), and starring the voices of Kevin James, Courteney Cox, Sam Elliott, Danny Glover, Wanda Sykes, Andie MacDowell and David Koechner.

Otis is a party animal cow, one of many barnyard animals who hide their walking and talking lifestyle from humanity. Ben, the leader of the barn and Otis' father, is constantly assuring his son that he'll have to shape up and improve his attitude one day. Sure enough, one night of irresponsibility leads to Ben's death at the hands of the evil coyote Dag and his pack. With Otis elected as the new leader, he must look out for all the other animals and struggle with accepting responsibility for others, all while coping with the developing feelings he has for the newest addition to the barnyard, Daisy, a pregnant cow.

The film served as the Pilot Movie for Back at the Barnyard, which premiered the following year.

Barnyard provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Sam Elliott plays Ben, the "Sheriff" of the Barnyard, as a tribute to his roles as authority figures in numerous Westerns. Appropriate, since this movie is in itself something of a Western, but with cows.
  • An Aesop: "A strong man stands up for himself. A stronger man stands up for others."
  • All-CGI Cartoon: The style of the movie and later the animated series.
  • All Just a Dream: The animals pull this on the farmer after he catches them partying.
  • Animal Gender-Bender: Contrary to popular belief, "male cows" don't have udders. To be fair, bulls have nipples, but they don't have udders (and showing actual genitalia wouldn't fly). Director Steve Oedekerk admits that he put udders on the steers because he thought "it'd be funny to give them the incorrect anatomy", and he had figured that city folk thought that all cows would look like this. Muddying things even further is there's a scene with a bull — no, not a male cow, an actual bull — riding a mechanical man. Perhaps bulls and cows are separate species in this universe.
  • Arc Words/Meaningful Echo: "A strong man stands up for himself. A stronger man stands up for others."
  • Artistic License Biology:
    • Coyotes do not travel in packs and are actually highly territorial, though it's implied that the other coyotes joined Dag because they were impressed with his skills at hunting chickens.
    • Male cattle are depicted as having udders, which they do not have in real life.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The cartoony CGI cows fit in fine with the goofy farm antics. The dark Western revenge story which actually drives the plot, not so much....
  • Ax-Crazy: Dag has too much fun in the hunt. And then there is the fact that he keeps the legs from the chickens he has killed before as decorations for his chain...
  • Babies Make Everything Better: The end of the movie has Daisy giving birth, and Otis doesn't lose his protector zen about it.
  • Back Stab: Dag's way of killing seems to be sneaking around and biting his opponent in the back while they're occupied with his minions.
    • Miles also counts.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the finale all the farm animals do this to Otis.
  • Big Fun: Besides the cows, there's also Biggie Cheese, an incredibly obese rapping rat.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: The Jersey Cows consist of Igg (Big), Eddy (Thin), and Bud (Short).
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Dag and his coyotes are pretty clear villains. The heroes can be pretty loving, well-meaning, and look out for each other but they are also not perfect role models. The animals of the barnyard, except for the hens, Ben, and Miles, act pretty much like college kids or young adults.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Despite having been mauled by coyotes, Ben is perfectly fine save for a little bit of blood around his mouth. He dies, of course.
  • Canines Gambling in a Card Game: During the party in the barn house some dogs are seen playing poker while one animal is painting a picture of them in the exact same likeness of the original panting.
  • Cartoon Creature: This dancing hairy creature called Wild Mike. He heavily resembles Captain Caveman.
  • Cassandra Truth: Mrs. Beady is the only one who realizes that cows hijacked her car and throw nightly parties. She reprises this role in the Back at the Barnyard.
  • Central Theme: "A strong man stands up for himself, a stronger man stands up for others". According to Steve Oedekerk, the movie is about family and what makes a family is people being there for each other and caring for one another.
  • Constantly Lactating Cow: Played for Laughs. Not only can the female cattle give milk without nursing, but the male cattle say "Milk me" as a G-rated curse.
  • Company Cross References: When the animals trick the farmer into thinking he's sleeping the entire time after getting knocked by Miles when he saw them acting like humans, They give him a copy of Charlotte's Web to read. Nickelodeon and Paramount would release a live-action version of the book later the same year.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After a boy tries cowtipping some cows along with his friends, the cows respond with boytipping him.
  • Cool Old Guy: Ben and Miles.
  • Cow Tipping: After a boy tries cowtipping some cows along with his friends, the cows respond with boytipping him.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Miles, Dag, and Daisy have not appeared or even been mentioned at all in the TV series. The latter is especially ridiculous because she gave birth to a son with Otis at the end. (Well, technically, it was her son from a previous relationship, who Otis adopts with her, but still.)
  • Darker and Edgier: The film is much darker than the TV series, and it's actually a very mature portrayal of dealing with loss and responsibility, with Otis (and possibly Etta) blaming himself for his dad dying and of course, there's Dag the sadistic, serial killing coyote.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Daisy names her and Otis' son after Ben.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mr. Beady is this, particularly to his wife:
    Mrs. Beady: Randall! There is a cow outside!
    Mr. Beady: There's a cow farm. You're gonna find cows outside.
  • Dirty Coward: Dag won't get his hands dirty against targets that fight back, but as soon as they turn their back on him...
  • The Dog Bites Back: "THAT'S CALLED BOY TIPPING!! HA HA HA!!"
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Or rather, a pig named Pig.
  • Down in the Dumps: The coyotes have a base in one.
  • Drop the Cow: Happens to a group of coyotes in the final battle.
  • Drunk on Milk: At the barn party, one of the barnyard animals is seen getting drunk from drinking the party beverage entitled "Milk & Honey".
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Let's face it. Going out battling coyotes all while playing the Johnny Cash version of "I Won't Back Down" at the same time is an awesome way to die.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This movie is much more solemn and grim than the subsequent animated series that would follow it. It's more of a combination between a wacky comedy and a Neo-Western dramedy (but you know, with cows).
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask: Ben can kick coyote ass and play a Tom Petty song in the style of Johnny Cash's cover at the same time.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: While there's no blood, the movie doesn't hide the fact that Ben dies from his wounds after the coyotes dogpile and maul him to death.
  • Girls Stare at Scenery, Boys Stare at Girls: This exchange:
    Daisy: It's beautiful, isn't it?
    Otis: My cud?
  • Gonk: Most of the human characters are pretty weird-looking. The snotty-boy in particular has a very ugly appearance.
  • Happily Adopted: Ben is not actually the birth father of Otis: he took the latter in when he was just a calf. Although they do have their fights (most of them concerning the Manchild nature of Otis), it's clear that both of them love each other, and Otis is absolutely devastated when Ben dies.
    • Also, Otis and Daisy raising her child (and his adoptive stepchild) Ben together at the film's end.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: For the first half-hour or so of the film, it's an entertainingly silly Wacky Fratboy Hijinks plot with cows. Then Otis' father dies and it becomes a dark revenge Western story...with cows.
  • He Knows Too Much: Defied.
    Freddy: He knows too much! We gotta take care of him. We gotta whack him!
    Otis: There will be NO WHACKING! Okay? The farmer's a good guy! He's been good to us.
  • Heroic BSoD: Otis, after being beaten by the coyotes.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ben dies protecting the chickens.
  • Horror Hunger: Freddy the Ferret is constantly trying to resist himself from eating his best friend Peck the Rooster.
  • Humiliation Conga: Dag gets a rather satisfying one. He never bothers the farm animals again.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Maddy: You're a meaner!
    Dag: Oh yeah? Well, meaners gotta eat too!
  • Ironic Echo:
    Snotty Boy: That's called "cow tipping!" Ha ha ha!
    Otis: That's called "boy tipping!" Ha ha ha!
  • Lactose over Liquor: At the party, the animals get drunk on milk mixed with honey.
  • Lazy Bum: Mr. Beady, who doesn't appear to do much other than sit in his chair, drinking and watching television.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Although not shown much, Dag has some shades of this. It's most notable when he taunts Otis, making him feel terrible about not helping his father on the night he died, and afterwards proposing Otis a deal: he and his pack would only take a few animals each night, but if Otis tries again to stop them, they will slaughter every single one of them.
    • Also, when he says Otis that he will be seeing him around by the next nights. When he returns to the farm, it's during the day, relying on Otis only counting on him return at night as he had always done.
  • Masquerade: Played for Laughs. While the animals don't speak to humans in English (or any human language), it's made clear that the animals really are speaking English and it's not just their noises being translated.
  • Mood Whiplash: A probable reason for the movie's meddling reception is its tone being a bit uneven. On one side it wants to be a kids movie about silly farm animals being funny, on the other it's got a genuine Vile Villain, Saccharine Show badguy who serves a darker and more somber subplot about legacy and family. This is best encapsulated how early on the animals have a big party with Biggie Cheese singing, while shortly after also showing Ben's tragic Last Stand.
  • Mook Chivalry: Averted. The coyotes dogpile Ben.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Playing a Tom Petty song on a homemade guitar? Simple enough. Playing a Tom Petty song on a homemade guitar while fighting a pack of coyotes? Now THAT's badass!
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers imply that this is a light comedy with crazy animal antics. The movie is really a comedy-drama about Otis' Coming of Age Story, his connection with his adopted father, and dealing with his issues of loss, identity, and fear.
  • New Old West: As mentioned above, this is less the wacky animal comedy that it was advertised as and more of a modern Western (with farm animals). Most of the animals (especially the chickens) are the innocent frontier townsfolk, Dag and his pack are the roving posse of bandits that threaten the town's safety and livelihood, and Ben is the Sheriff who keeps the bandits at bay and the town — er, farm — safe from them. Otis' Coming of Age Story is completed by him functionally becoming the new "Sheriff" after Ben's death.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ben found Otis as an orphaned calf following him in the fields, so he decided to raise him.
  • Parental Bonus: Two female cows shown at party are getting their udders pumped of their milk for the beverage at the party.
  • Parental Substitute: Ben isn't Otis' actual father, as mentioned above, but adopted him and raised him as his own. Later, Otis himself adopts Daisy's child as their own, bringing things full circle.
  • Precision F-Strike: The producers managed to include the Johnny Cash version of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down". Complete with the word "hell". In a kid's movie. Arguably Downplayed, depending on how you view the word "Hell" - in the context of the song, it's referring to the location, "the gates of Hell", rather than as a curse word, which many consider perfectly acceptable.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: But not in the way it was advertised. It's Animal House with cows meets a modern Western revenge story. (With cows.)
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Otis attempts one. It doesn't end well.
  • Romantic Ribbing: Daisy, Otis's pregnant love interest, at one point tells Otis the baby's coming, then laughs at his reaction.
    Daisy: Haha, I made you jump.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Bessie has the voice and attitude of one.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: In the middle of the farmer discovering them, it leads to a very intense discussion of what vegans are. It doesn't really help their case when the Farmer wakes up again.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: There is some elements of cynicism but the movie is surprisingly very heartwarming.
  • Sole Survivor: Daisy and her friend are the sole survivors of a flash flood that apparently wiped out their previous herd.
  • Stab the Picture: In one of the party scenes, the chickens are seen throwing darts on a picture of Colonel Sanders taped to a dartboard.
  • Talking Animal: Arguably the main point until Ben dies.
  • Tar and Feathers: At the beginning of this film, when Otis and his friends go surfing, they fly through an oil well and a chicken farm, resulting in them becoming covered in feathers when they arrive at the barn during the morning meeting.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: The resident ferret quotes this upon biting a coyote.
  • Those Wily Coyotes: Dag
  • Toilet-Drinking Dog Gag: After the death of Ben, Otis' father, Duke the sheepdog holds an emergency meeting over who the new leader of the farm animals should be. When Duke nominates himself to be the new leader, Pig objects and tells him that he saw him drink out of a toilet once, to which Duke tells him that he only did that because his water bowl was empty.
  • Unusual Euphemism: When Otis and his friends are on the run from the police, one of them is saying to himself "Oh, milk me!"
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: For a movie about farm animals that like to party, the coyotes can be pretty terrifying.
  • Villain Ball: Rather than just quickly kill Otis while he has him pinned down, Dag decided to gloat instead, allowing Otis time to recover.
  • Visual Pun: Biggie Cheese performs "Boombastic" by Shaggy, and as he starts his song, we cut to a member of the barn band... a shaggy dog.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Dag has absolutely no problems with eating Maddy, who is only a young chick.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Despite having Otis pinned down and wounded twice, Dag gloats and lets him recover for no discernible reason, even when it would guarantee his victory.
  • You Killed My Father: Otis' father Ben was killed by Dag while he was protecting the chickens.
  • Zerg Rush: Seems to be Dag's chief way of dealing with obstacles. He bites them first to weaken them, then orders his entire pack to do this.

♪ Well, I won't back down
No, I won't back down
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground
And I won't back down ♪


Video Example(s):


Otis and the Mailman

Whenever the mailman's back is turned, Otis stands on his hind legs and starts making faces at him, but when the mailman turns around, Otis reverts to the four-legged stance of a real cow.

How well does it match the trope?

4.85 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / Masquerade

Media sources: