Shaun the Sheep Movie

Aardman's feature-length Shaun adaptation is a blast for kids and adults

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Shaun the Sheep Movie

Rating Shaun the Sheep MovieShaun the Sheep MovieShaun the Sheep MovieShaun the Sheep Movie

Written and directed by Mark Burton, Richard Starzak. Featuring the voices of Omid Djalili, John Sparkes, Kate Harbour, Andy Nyman, Nick Park, Justin Fletcher.

Note: like the TV show, Shaun the Sheep Movie features no (intelligible) dialogue, making it accessible to all audiences. English-language signs and other on-screen texts are left untranslated. 

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A delightful feature-length expansion of the popular UK TV show, Shaun the Sheep Movie might be primarily targeted to younger audiences but it has plenty to offer adults, too. Amiable and good-natured throughout, but still retaining its own unique brand of offbeat humor, this should be a hit with all ages. 

Produced by Aardman Animation, the studio behind Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, and The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Shaun the Sheep originally made his debut in the Oscar-winning 1995 short A Close Shave. He got his own show in 2007, which was met with widespread success across Europe, though it’s been slow to make it overseas; while Shaun the Sheep Movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, it has yet to secure a US release date. 

But Shaun has something that allows it to break through language barriers: it’s an (almost) entirely nonverbal affair, where the story is told through visual means (and, I suppose, a few grunts and groans). While some programs might not include dialogue as a way of catering for the youngest audience members, Shaun the Sheep includes a lot of storytelling techniques and visual gags that harken back to the silent movies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. 

The Movie starts out with a nostalgic Super 8 look back at its three primary characters: Shaun, the titular sheep and apparent runt of the litter (he’s a good deal… slimmer than the rest of his flock); the unnamed Farmer who raised him and takes care of the farm; and the unorthodox sheepdog Bitzer who helps the Farmer (but really does most of the work).

Years later, Shaun is getting tired of the daily grind on Mossy Bottom Farm; upon spying an advert on a passing bus, he devises a plan to take a day off for himself, his flock, and the rest of the critters on the farm (which also included a group of unkempt pigs). 

That set the stage for one of the film’s brilliantly-executed comedic gags, a Rube Goldberg-esque chain of events that sees the flock put the farmer to sleep in a caravan (love how the sheep use their sleep-inducing talent at different points in the movie), and then watch said caravan rolls down the hill and into the city as Shaun, Bitzer, and co. are helpless to stop it.  

The bulk of the film takes place in the city, where our heroes must not only find Farmer – who now has amnesia after a knock on the noggin – but also contend with a dedicated animal control officer. The flock of sheep must pose as humans in one of the film’s other great set pieces, inside a posh restaurant; a touching subplot involves an ownerless dog. 

Amid the kid-friendly proceedings, there are a multitude of more adult references for film fans to watch out for, including nods to Taxi Driver, The Terminator, and of course, Silence of the Lambs. And all the silent film comedy that harkens back (intentionally or not) to Chaplin, Keaton, Jacques Tati, and others. 

As with other Aardman creations, Shaun the Sheep comes to life through wonderful stop-motion animation; it’s a step up from the sometimes-stiff feel of the TV show, and on a par with previous Aardman animated features including Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit

The nostalgic Feels Like Summer by Tim Wheeler, Ilan Eshkeri and Nick Hodgson was recorded for the film and is played at multiple points throughout. 

Note: be sure to stick around through the closing credits, which offer up gags right through till the very end.

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