Credit: Barnyard: Paramount

Steve Oedekerk bristles at the very thought that his animated feature directorial debut is part of a recent spate of movies featuring cuddly CG critters out for adventure (see Over the Hedge, The Wild). ”I’ve had this idea for 20 years,” he says. ”I was at a friend’s house and his dog kept staring at me. I couldn’t get the image out of my head that as soon as I left, he stood up and said, ‘I’m so glad that guy’s gone. Where were we?’ to the cat.” From that encounter came the story of a juvenile cow (Kevin James) who flirts with revealing to the world that animals have human abilities. But kiddies beware: Oedekerk says adult themes like responsibility and adoption abound. ”This is being marketed as ‘Hey, come see this big, funny movie.’ But there’s a serious through-line. I think people are going to be caught off guard.” Not anymore.