Commentary &Daily post 04 Aug 2006 09:20 am

Where’s the Beef?

- Amid Amidi has posted an excellent look at fifties animation books on his Cartoon Modern site. He leads us to books and tapes available on the subject. The Art of the era.

– To get away from Art let’s talk about cleaning up the Barnyard.

Here are some of the local reviews for that Nickelodon film; they’re all negative. Too bad.
When you have a live-action auteur like Steve Oedekirk come in to write and direct an “animated feature,” surely you’re on the right track. Why should the director know anything about the craft?

The animals, for the most part, seem to be walking upright, on their hind legs. I guess it’d have been more difficult doing a four-legged animal with motion capture.

I’ve about had it (as Popeye said: Enough is too much!). I’d rather quote a few of the local critics than try to waste my time articulating what I think about it.

Mahola Dargis, NY Times: The udder looks a lot like the base of a plumber’s plunger and the teats look exceptionally friendly, like chubby little fingers waving toodle-oo. They’re so friendly that it’s hard not to stare at them and wonder what would happen if you milked Otis, which proves both distracting and something of a relief, since there isn’t all that much else in this film to think about.

Elizabeth Weitzman, NY Daily News (1 ½ stars): Nothing in this movie makes any sense, especially considering that it’s ultimately geared toward young children. The high-quality animation can’t distract from tragic funeral scenes and frightening fights, let alone racial stereotypes ranging from a feisty Mexican mouse to a sassy black Bessie. Too mature for little kids and much too corny for older siblings and chaperones, “Barnyard” probably should have been put out to pasture long before it made it to the multiplex.

Scott Tobias, The Onion: The truth about farm animals is that no matter how humane the farmer (or how lush the rolling meadows, or how slop-filled the pen), they’re all kept around to produce food products, and eventually, that means death by unnatural causes. Otherwise, it’s not really farming, is it?
An honest children’s tale at least acknowledges that fact, and the classic Charlotte’s Web turned it into a note of great poignancy, because even prize-winning pigs and their eight-legged friends have to come to terms with the inevitable. When a patriarchal cow dies in the hideous new animated film Barnyard, he’s actually buried six feet under with a ceremony and a tombstone—no steak, no rump roast, not even a pile of tripe. It may seem unfair to expect realism from a movie about anthropomorphic party-animals who walk around on their hind legs, but the film crosses the line. What makes them animals? What makes this a farm? What would George Orwell think?

Kyle Smith NY Post (1 ½ stars): ANIMATED FARM TALE UDDERLY UNREDEEMING If you want to punish your kids, send them to bed without dinner. If you want to disturb, frighten and depress them while making sure they fail biology, take them to the animated feature “Barnyard.”

My only real question is: why do all children’s films have to be so cynical and nasty?

27 Responses to “Where’s the Beef?”

  1. on 04 Aug 2006 at 2:07 pm 1.intergalactic said …

    Just a note on your comment.

    “The animals, for the most part, seem to be walking upright, on their hind legs. I guess it’d have been more difficult doing a four-legged animal with motion capture.”

    You might do a little dirt digging before making any assumptions about the films animation. In fact though the primary team of animators on the Barnyard may have been new to working on a 3D feature there were in fact Animators animating all of the primary and secondary characters.

    I do believe that they did they’re very best given time and financial limitations on the production. They gave they’re very best and we’re all very proud of the work they did.

    With all due respect to the animators you might do a little research next time you decide judge a films quality of animation and the people who worked so hard to get it onto the big screen.

    Thank you for your time.

    …i

  2. on 04 Aug 2006 at 3:00 pm 2.Paul Denton said …

    Not to excuse Barnyard – it does, indeed, look pretty awful – but to suggest Steve Oedekerk is primarily a “live-action auteur” is a bit odd, considering his previous work in awful CG animation. (To say nothing of his production and writing credits in live-action so cartoonish it may as well be, like The Nutty Professor or the second Ace Ventura.) It might be fairer to say he’s an all-around hack, not just one out of his depth in this particular medium…

  3. on 04 Aug 2006 at 3:37 pm 3.intergalactic said …

    “It might be fairer to say he’s an all-around hack”

    It might also be fairer to say that you’re rude.

    Check the numbers on all of those films you mentioned and you might be surprised by what you find. Steve is known for doing a film for very little and turning a profit on it.

    Steve’s a great guy so I take offence to your comment. There are ways to make your point without being insulting.

    …i

  4. on 04 Aug 2006 at 3:56 pm 4.Joel Schlosberg said …

    Not only does a quick search of IMDB turn up credits on animated movies like “Jimmy Neutron”, as Paul Denton pointed out, but Oedekerk has actually done cow-related CG animation before. In an infamous scene in “Kung Pow! Enter the Fist”, Oedekerk’s character gets in a Matrix-type martial arts fight with a CG cow, a scene which was previsualized and partially animated by well-known animator Jeff Lew.

  5. on 04 Aug 2006 at 4:20 pm 5.Michael said …

    Sorry for my error. I guess I assumed it was motion capture since this job offer went out.

    Job Title
    Character Animator – MoCap Exp
    Job Description – Omation Studios has an immediate opening for an Animator with strong Motion Capture experience for our first fully CG animated feature, “The Barnyard”.

    The film also includes this credit:
    Paul-Jozef Torrevillas – motion capture production assistant.

    I shouldn’t have made the assumption.
    However, motion capture or not the film is coarse and cynical and not appropriate for children – like most animated films these days. Just reread any review you can find.

    I’ll cross out the line in my posting.

    As for Steve Oedekerk, I knew he had done animation but chose to think of him as a live-action director. He’s coarse in both formats, and five year old children are less affected by his sensibilities in that world.

  6. on 04 Aug 2006 at 4:24 pm 6.Kris Boban said …

    I almost had an opportunity to animate on this film, but I’m glad my name isn’t on this.

    Although Steve’s background does include Jimmy Neutron, I don’t think he should’ve gone into animated features. I think he should stick with what he’s better at, Jim Carrey features. I am a believer in trying everything once, so I hope he learns from this and moves on with his career, not including features like this.

    Nice writeup.

  7. on 04 Aug 2006 at 5:18 pm 7.Cory Ag said …

    Yeah I take offence to this whole thing.. every word. Based on the simple fact that it takes time and work and effort to even make a few seconds none the less an hour I’m getting fed up, i’m sick and tired of critics.. I honestly am, it’s almost always negitive, whos to say whats good or whats not, I Dont think they have ANY say on how things are done right. The point is, no matter what anyone does..or says, this film and any other films they’ve deliberatly bashed will ALWAYS be forzen forever in time.. and thats what counts. It counts because these people have put there passion and hard work into these and they had fun doing it… and what these critics who bash films..used their passion for beign negitive.. shame on them. Shame on everyone who is so negitive about everything.. what has the world come to.

  8. on 04 Aug 2006 at 6:41 pm 8.tom said …

    Intergalactic, are you related to the production, or are you related to the hack Odenkirk? Make no mistake- he’s a hack. I’ve seen a lot of his hackwork, and as a hack, he hacks with the best hacks. Moving on…

  9. on 04 Aug 2006 at 8:28 pm 9.intergalactic said …

    Tom, it’s obvious that you will enjoy this movie because from the sounds of it you must be thirteen.

    Cory don’t be so bummed about the negativity, I think that looking back on all we learned working on this film it’s been a great experience even if there are people who don’t enjoy the movie.

    I’m sure that some people forget just how many people are involved in the over all creating of the movie and to even have an opportunity to work on a movie in itself is a blessing.

    So Kris I’m glad your names not on the film too, it left more room for good people and believe me there were alot of good people who worked on this movie.

    I stand by the film as a fun family flick and I see no harm in taking a five year old to it other than some of the scary parts with the coyote’s.

    For some of you parents wondering about the movie you should check out this link.

    http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/barnyard/featurette/

    …i

  10. on 05 Aug 2006 at 2:09 am 10.Robert Reynolds said …

    I find it interesting that at least two people have commented on the work, time and effort that goes into the making of a film. One commented on the number of people involved.

    They might want to remember that virtually all feature films take a great deal of work, time and effort and require the involvement of many people. That work, time and effort from all those people is in no way, shape or form a guarantee that the result will be inherently good just because they expended an effort. Hard work does not translate automatically into quality. Look at any bad feature film made last year and I’d consider it a pretty safe bet that a whole lot of people with the best of intentions worked on it and had hopes of being successful when they finished.

  11. on 05 Aug 2006 at 6:09 am 11.Oliver said …

    Well said, Robert. If time and effort always translated into quality then ‘Meet Joe Black’ would surely be one of the world’s greatest movies.

  12. on 05 Aug 2006 at 3:13 pm 12.Cory Ag said …

    Again whos to say what mvoie is bad or not.. it’s not our say, you have your own opinion and thats it. And it remains that way. If these people spent time on this movie, and lvoed doing and had fun doing it, then damnit.. I lvoe it right along with them, I admire it, and am inspired by it. I’m with intergalactic 100000% of the way.

  13. on 05 Aug 2006 at 3:25 pm 13.Sean Montgomery said …

    I was a Lighting Lead on Barnyard, and knew early on that it was not destined for the Hall of Animated Classics – but like everyone else, gave it my best. And I think that in terms of look, it was quite successful. It retains the style and vibrant colours of Phil Cruden’s original concept art…and I’m proud of many of the shots that I lit.

    Pretty much everyone on the show thought the udders were weird…and believe me, they started off weirder – several months into principle animation, all the teats were ‘stiffened’, since they initially dangled and bounced in a more penile fashion. (and why there is also a Bull in the Barnyard is quite the mystery…what’s his role?) My impression was that Steve Oedekerk just thinks that cows are inherently funny, and that most kids would share this view. The studio backed him on it, and here we are. Just be grateful that a planned scene of the Jersey Cows squirting their milk onto vanquished coyote foes never made it past storyboards….sanity prevailed in that case.

    Motion capture was only used for background characters in crowd scenes…and given that there were shots with upwards of 120 animals (many of them furred), it was an economical way to go.

  14. on 05 Aug 2006 at 11:36 pm 14.Michael said …

    Thanks for explaining the motion capture.
    There’s no doubt that most of the people working on the film probably gave 100%, and that would explain why the graphics look so bright and friendly. A couple of positive reviews have broken through, and it looks like the boxoffice take will be ok. Hopefully, it’ll encourage Nickelodeon to make more animated films.

  15. on 06 Aug 2006 at 1:08 am 15.Eric Paulsen said …

    The moment I saw bulls with tits it was over for me. I’m no biologist but even I knew THAT was wrong. Is it part of the plot? Are they transgender bovine Americans? Is it a statement about how the hormones injected into beef cause the growth of boy-bosoms?

    Whatever. I didn’t get the whole appeal of anthropomorphized cars either so I am sure this movie will find an audience with plenty of folks who have never seen a farm animal and won’t know the difference.

  16. on 07 Aug 2006 at 2:49 am 16.David Andrews said …

    Getting back to the beginning of the post, what’s so cynical and nasty about Barnyard? It’s a fast bit of fun. Being distrustful of a filmmaker’s intentions is in itself cynical.

    Let’s all try to be a little more positive or at least make our invective witty.

    And the udders. If your Reason is affronted by the Humour of a Nickelodeon movie you’re most likely overreacting, having a latent response to the worries of An Inconvenient Truth.

  17. on 07 Aug 2006 at 2:35 pm 17.zandar said …

    From the previews I actually thought the humans were pretty interestingly designed and expressive looking. They looked like funny cartoons, not mishappen peanuts like Jimmy Neutron. But maybe I prejudge…

    BUT… the udders the udders the udders. Boy cows ain’t got um. That is just plain stupid. If udders are so funny, why not a movie about a bunch of girl cows? Something wrong with female leads? For god sake, I can imagine the production. 99.9% of everyone is wondering why the boy cows have udders, knowing it’s wrong, and the moron director and the studio morons say, “it’s fine! No one will care.” But cows are almost defined by their udders. Why not give human boy cartoons breasts? Cause it doesnt make any sense. Oh the humanity. The stupidity. Hacks!

  18. on 07 Aug 2006 at 4:55 pm 18.Ivaylo said …

    Oh, the udders… It’s coming close to insanity the way the whole world has picked up torches and pitchforks over the “male cows” and their accessories in this movie.
    (Just FYI, bulls ALSO have udders, though much smaller and less visible, because they don’t produce milk. They have them, nonetheless, just like all men have nipples. That’s for all the “anatomically offended,” who don’t seem to have done their homework in detail).
    Now, as for why are they so prominent, I believe that’s called exaggeration, which (correct me if I’m wrong) falls under the “artistic freedom license” category that every artist and filmmaker is supposed to have, in order to bring THEIR vision to life. I thought artistic freedom was something we had in this country, since, last time I checked, we were still ruled by a non-communist government.
    And that’s all it comes down to – it’s purely the director’s choice to overemphasize the udders, because he believes that is funny. (I, for one prefer exaggerated udders over exaggerated testicles, which would’ve made all the raging “biologists” happier, I’m assuming? Yeah, right…). But that’s the silly, wacky humor Steve Oedekerk’s known for, and you’d know that had you seen any of his previous movies.
    And if you don’t like that type of humor – that movie ain’t for you! I’m sure plenty of people though “Ren&Stimpy” was disgusting and wrong when it first came out, but it found it’s audience, and now people write books about it, and praise it’s originality. That goes for most every other animated show that’s come out in the past 30 years. Remember how many puritans were up in arms over the weird “yellow people” back when the Simpsons were becoming popular?
    Art is subjective, movies are subjective. But sure, we can yak about it…

  19. on 07 Aug 2006 at 5:51 pm 19.Eric Paulsen said …

    Prominent udders on bulls is not offensive because, heaven forbid a male be portrayed with feminine characteristics, it is offensive because it is biologically incorrect. Sure, male bovies have nipples too. But do we exaggerate the clitoris for comedic effect? Why NOT enormous basketball sized testicles? Why not give the bulls prehensile tails so they can hang from the trees and claim artistic license? If this were ‘the Chernobyl Barnyard’ then okay, pretty much anything goes with the mutation gag, but unless there is a reason borne out by the story I will not apologize for being offended by blatant biological innacuracy.

  20. on 07 Aug 2006 at 7:07 pm 20.Michael said …

    Good cartooning is caricature. Caricature of real life – unless we’re trying to work wholly from imagination, and even then it’s caricature.

    So many critics and people are bothered by the “male udders” because it is not real. People have difficulty accepting it. Certainly, animators working on this film had to have questioned it but either kept silent or were told to keep silent. Now it’s the public’s chance to talk about it, and they are. If you have a problem with the discussion, sorry, but it’s an appropriate discussion to have.

    If Andie MacDowell has to defend the problem on a late night talk show, something is wrong, and that’s the problem. Ssomething is wrong, and the film makers blundered in thinking it would be easily accepted.

  21. on 08 Aug 2006 at 1:46 pm 21.zandar said …

    Comments 19 and 20 perfectly answer the self-righteous, highly defensive (self-interested?) Ivayo but I like wasting my time. Actually, I love Ren and Stimpy and yellow Simpsons, etc. Artistic freedom is Grade A all-American OK with me. But udders on male characters (especially party hardy macho male characters who otherwise reek of cliche… except for some reason, anatomically) is just plain dumb and distracting, adding nothing to the characterization. I can’t wait for the blockbuster about the wacky boy chicken who just happens to lay eggs… cause layin’ eggs is FUN-EEE! (Actually, maybe that’s a plot afterall…)

  22. on 08 Aug 2006 at 3:09 pm 22.cgeye said …

    Intergalactic, CoryAG, et al.:

    If, in fact, “Again who’s to say what movie is bad or not.. it’s not our say, you have your own opinion and thats it”, why are you bothered when we and the majority of English-language critics share our opinion that this film was ill-conceived and shoddily-made?

    The fact that anyone connected with this picture could speak up for it, fully knowing that they drew udders on bulls, (Sam Elliott, crossdressing? Are these the End Times, or what?) then added crude bodily function jokes, is nearly stupefying. There’s a difference between healthy self-esteem and willful delusion, folks.

  23. on 09 Aug 2006 at 6:06 pm 23.B said …

    I have no problem with the the idea of them having udders. Why does it matter? It’s a cartoon.

  24. on 10 Aug 2006 at 7:43 am 24.Michael said …

    Your comment is the most degrading one you can give any animator: it doesn’t matter; it’s a cartoon. You’ve told us that none of our work matters, since they’re just cartoons. Thank you.

  25. on 06 May 2008 at 1:31 am 25.Zazooo said …

    Don’t know if anyone will see or care about my two-year’s-too-late post but I am so happy and somewhat relieved to know that my sensibilities were being echoed across the internet while I silently fumed to myself. I don’t know the reason for the bovine “she-males” but it was a bad call – whether the creator thought it was funny or thought our kids would be too blinded by the pretty colors to notice.

    But, wait, apparently we didn’t get the joke the first time so now Nick is ramming the damn concept on us via the “Barnyard” series until we all see the light and emit a mighty HAR HAR.

    Ah, yes, it is humorous to watch a She-Male bovine joke about how cold the farmer’s hands are when he MILKS him… that is one wierd headtrip Nick is playing on our children … I hope that one of them doesn’t grow up and try to milk a bull someday – now that will be REALLY FUNNY, Right, Oedekerk? HAR HAR

  26. on 17 Jan 2009 at 12:00 pm 26.DVD movie downloads said …

    DVD movie downloads…

    Where do you normally research for your blog content?…

  27. on 21 Jan 2009 at 12:14 am 27.connie said …

    i found this blog by asking google why the bull on barnyard has udders .. the reason i asked??? because my 5 and 7 year old grandchildren just kept asking me,they r a distraction even to kids although they do love the show .. but they eally do look stupid…

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