Review: Shaun the Sheep Movie
PLOT: Shaun the Sheep is ready to relax. Tired of the day to day routine, he decides to change things up a bit and trick The Farmer into sleeping the day away. Things dont go as planned when The Farmer ends up unexpectedly in the city suffering from a slight case of memory loss. It is then up to Shaun and the flock to bring his happy little family back together under some difficult circumstances.
REVIEW: Sometimes you just need a day off. When the same old schedule is so painfully dull there are times that you simply need to expand your horizons. Well, that is exactly what happens in the Aardman Animations feature film SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE - based on the British television series. This is a simple tale, yet it is exuberant and funny, with a huge heart. The charm in this modern day childrens fable is not only in its simplicity, but it also has the ability to pay homage to other works without feeling cheap or pandering. This big screen adventure of Shaun is wonderfully delightful for its young audience, but equally appealing to the adults gathered in the theatre.
SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE begins with just another day for Shaun. He wakes up to see the friendly face of his spider pal that hangs over his head. The Farmer continues to follow his regular routine by collecting the sheeps wool. The Farmers friendly dog helps with the flock. It is all the same old same old until Shaun decides to literally take the day off by tricking the farmer to think that he should be sleeping - the counting sheep bit is very funny. Yet things get ugly when the trailer where The Farmer sleeps takes off down a hill right into the heart of the city. And to make matters worse, the happy-go-lucky Farmer forgets who he is. With an entire flock lost without their owner, Shaun has to figure out a way to make things right again with a little help from his barnyard pals.
This may sound much too cute - and occasionally it is - but somehow this is a hugely enjoyable hour and twenty-five minutes of animated goodness. Written and directed by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak, there is an incredible sense of whimsy throughout. The adventures the sheep go through is silly, but somehow it all works. Even the ridiculousness of The Farmer falling into an unlikely job after losing his memory is incredibly adorable. It works wholeheartedly in the context of this unlikely story of a family working together. If there was ever a childrens film that offered up some inspired morals without being heavy-handed about it, this is a great example of that very thing.
Animated fare usually consists of a number of celebrity voices offering a bit of familiarity to audiences. Not only are the voice actors actual voice actors - including Justin Fletcher as Shaun and John Sparkes as The Farmer - but there is not a single complete line of dialogue in the entire film. Sure you have the occasional, What? or Why? but the script consists of just sounds the people and animals make. The beauty of this is that you avoid some of the insipid jokes you occasionally find in family friendly comedies. Much like a silent film, there is a ton of music and the grunts and short expressions that more than make up for actual words. Again, this is a simple story that really doesnt need a ton of talk. This is a solidly entertaining family film presented in a visually creative and entertaining way.
When the story began, the lack of dialogue was a tad bit tedious for a few minutes. I personally couldnt help but wonder if that would change once Shaun and pals found themselves in the city, but it doesnt. And while this was a bit odd early on, I found myself easily disappearing into Shauns plight without anything being said. It also helped that the filmmakers would pay tribute to something like NIGHT OF THE HUNTER or THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS every so often. Inside this animated tale there is a real love for cinema, and by offering up a movie that is essentially a silent film, it is a creative way to present that concept to young viewers.
From CHICKEN RUN to WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT, Aardman Animations is able to tell classic stories that will appeal to most all audiences. SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE is a wonderfully rich tale that manages to create a sweet story without the aid of a major movie star wisecracking his way through the script. And what is most surprising is how quickly SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE moves. At an already short running time, this adorable little film ends almost too quickly. It also helps that the stop motion clay animation is so effortless for Aardman. This impressive studio has this style down to perfection. If you are looking for something a little different this summer, and a whole lot of fun, you will likely enjoy the delightful adventures of SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE.