Full disclosure: I love ‘Shaun the Sheep’, so it should be no surprise to you that I really enjoyed ‘Shaun the Sheep: The Movie’. From award-winning Aardman Studios, the creators of ‘Wallace and Gromit’ and ‘Chicken Run’, comes the feature-length debut of the popular children’s show about a clever young sheep, his flock, canine friend Bitzer, and Farmer.
When Shaun and the flock want a day off from the daily grind, they hatch a brilliant plan to distract the Farmer. Unfortunately, when this results in the disappearance of the Farmer, Shaun and crew must follow him to the Big City in an epic adventure. Along the way, they make friends, dodge the city stray-catcher, effectively impersonate people, and create all sorts of traffic hazards.
SWITCH: 'SHAUN THE SHEEP' TRAILER 2
This film appeals to all ages, peppering the tried-and-true children’s slapstick of Shaun and his clever antics with plenty of in-jokes and pop-culture references to keep the rest of us entertained too. The stop-motion animation is superb, as we would expect from Aardman Studios, with editing and technicalities top-notch. Where this really stands out are the characters’ expressions: entire concepts are expressed in the rise of Shaun’s eyebrows or the twitch of Bitzer’s nose. And Timmy the Lamb is just cuteness overload. Prepare yourself.
The film lopes along at a comfortable pace, keeping the action warm, light and funny, with the occasional darker scene for dramatic effect. The score is spot-on, enhancing the vision nicely, with a smattering of pop songs and classics to bring a smile to your face. But the real strength lies in the telling of a (not un-complicated) story without a single line of dialogue. The sheep don’t speak, but neither do the humans, with the only concession to higher communication being the occasional written word in English. Sure, it might stretch belief that Shaun and Bitzer can read, and catch buses, and build rather complicated apparatus, but that’s all part of the magic.
The real strength lies in the telling of a story without a single line of dialogue.
For a children’s movie to lack a moral message would break the laws of nature, and in this regard, ‘Shaun’ has it just right. The message is there – appreciating what we have, and those who care about us – while not smothering us with it (cough, Disney, cough).
This is a fantastic kids movie; whether your tiny humans are fans of the TV show or not, they’ll get plenty of entertainment here. The only caveat to that is while we adults will enjoy the film, and get a kick out of Shaun’s McGyvering, older children might consider the entire concept just a tad uncool. Take your little-uns, but teens and tweens aren’t the target audience (and there’s no way they’d go to a movie with their parents anyway, right?).