If animated talking animals need to tell us just one thing, it's that you shouldn't eat your friends. That was a big point in Madagascar last year, and it's one of Barnyard's funnier running gags. Okay, so the joke's barely Hee-Haw quality. But the premise of this movie assumes the very idea of animals talking must be side-splitting, so when the ferret gets all guilty and jabbery about hungering for his rooster pal, it's gotta be a laugh riot time.
Too bad. Funny people--Kevin James, Courteney Cox, Wanda Sykes--do the voices of the cows, whose job is protecting fellow livestock from, ya know, things that want to eat 'em. But writer-director Steve Oedekerk doesn't give them many humorous things to say. And the guy showed such a knack for fun with animals when he made Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Guess you can't milk genius forever.