SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE
You know who Shaun the Sheep is, don’t you? Just in case you don’t, he’s the titular ruminant in Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit telly spin-off. While it’s intended for far younger folk than ourselves, it’s actually pretty entertaining to anyone with a sense of humour. Normally coming in 7-minute episodes, but Shaun has now been given the feature-length treatment. That’s never going to work...
Shaun and his flock fancy a day off from the tedium of farmyard life so they trick The Farmer into sleeping in his caravan while they run amok. But when Bitzer (he’s the dog) rumbles them it all goes horribly wrong and the caravan finds its way to the big city where The Farmer bangs his head and loses his memory. As the sheep can’t actually feed themselves (which is odd because we’re sure they eat grass) there is no other option but for Bitzer, Shaun and the rest of the flock to go and rescue him with hilarious consequences.
Does it work in this long format? Well, perhaps surprisingly, it does. Aardman have got plenty of experience at this sort of thing and they get the pacing and the gag-per-minute ratio bang on. Of course the humans just mumble and the sheep just bleat so it’s all visual humour but there’s time for far more elaborate set-pieces and even character development. The relationship between The Farmer and the animals has been changed slightly to give it a bit more dramatic tension but it really does work. This is Shaun but with the trappings of an epic. This is There and Back Again in stop-motion. With sheep. There are heroes and villains; triumph and defeat; joy and sorrow; redemption and landing in cow dung. This is Homer’s Odyssey with bottom gags.
In all honesty, we enjoyed this more than the short format. The kids love it (this reviewer’s son was in fits of laughter as usual when Shaun is on) but there’s loads of stuff for the adults. Perfect family entertainment and it even has a great soundtrack. Primal Scream? No-one was expecting that. Can’t wait for the sequel because, as the song says, “Life’s a treat with Shaun the Sheep”.
INFO: CERT: U / DIRECTOR: RICHARD STARZAK, MARK BURTON / SCREENPLAY: RICARD STARZAK. MIKE BURTON / STARRING: JUSTIN FLETCHER, JOHN SPARKES, OMID DJALILI / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 1ST