Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) / Animation-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG for rude humor
Running Time: 85 min.
Cast (voices): Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes
Director: Mark Burton, Richard Starzak
Screenplay: Mark Burton, Richard Starzak
Review published August 3, 2015
2015 is the Year of the Sheep, according to the Chinese calendar, so what better time for this film to come out. Shaun the Sheep Movie is a whimsical and good-natured animated comedy from Aardman Animation studios, featuring anthropomorphic animals, spinning off from the world of their "Wallace and Gromit" to become just as popular in its British homeland, leading to getting his own show on the Children's BBC network (CBBC) in 2007 that still runs as of this writing that has seen it also appear on television screens on many world markets since.
We start out in Mossy Bottom Farm, where Shaun and his ovine brethren reside, put to work every day with a list of repetitive tasks by a serious-minded farmer, presided over by his zealous dog, Bitzer. It's a bit of a grind for the animals of the farm, but Shaun gets the idea of a day off from the doldrums of their daily existence, tricking the farmer to have their run of things for a spot of fun, even if it's brief. However, a mishap while making their way to the city ends up with the farmer hospitalized due to an injury that has given him amnesia, the dog trying to get him back, pigs taking over the farmhouse, and the sheep realizing that, though it's fun having autonomy for the moment, it's not something they wish for the long term, specially as they face the harsh realities of the big city, as well as the tenacious and mean animal control agent out to put them away.
There's not much to the story other than that, but it's not the destination that's important with the Shaun the Sheep Movie, it's the pleasantness and silly amusement of the journey. Comedic elements abound that sees the animals try to pass themselves off as humans to avoid undue attention while they try, mostly in vain, to get their master, the farmer, to snap out of his memory loss. Meanwhile, though happenstance, the farmer becomes a minor celebrity when he uses his shearing skills to good use at a local hair salon, which causes his sheep-cuts to be the next great sensation in style among the people of the city. But the kids who see this will probably enjoy the rude humor sprinkled throughout. Even I found these moments funny and not at all gratuitous, thanks to the quality of the characterizations, punctuation of the overall silliness, and the genuine moments of surprise when they do happen.
Though there is English in the film (perhaps other languages, depending on the country this is showing in), all of it is in written form, as the movie is mostly silent otherwise, or if people do speak, it's unintelligible to us save for the character gestures and facial expressions.
With lots of inventive energy, toe-tapping tunes on the soundtrack, ingenious ways to make the stop-motion claymation fluid and rich in detail, and a ceaseless visual wit, Shaun the Sheep Movie emerges as one of 2015's best family films. That it will only take in a small fraction of what the mediocre Minions earns is a true shame.
©2015 Vince Leo