Shaun The Sheep Movie

Review by Adam Woodward @AWLies

Directed by

Mark Burton Richard Starzack

Starring

John Sparkes Justin Fletcher

Anticipation.

Anything from Aardman Animations is a must-see. Simple as.

Enjoyment.

Flocking marvellous.

In Retrospect.

Baa-rilliant.

This delectable tale of a stop-motion sheep in the city reminds us why Aardman Animation are a national treasure.

Ever since he first sprung onto our screens in 1995’s A Close Shave, Nick Park’s third Wallace & Gromit short, Shaun the Sheep has remained a firm family favourite, thanks largely to the long-running children’s TV show that has been chronicling his ovine adventures since 2007. Aardman Animations’ stock is such that the question of whether Shaun had the chops to carry his own feature-length spin-off was never really in doubt. Still, woolly hats off to co-directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzack for making us feel all warm and fuzzy inside with this stop-motion treasure.

When Shaun decides he’s had enough of farm life for one day, he rallies the rest of his flock (they’re an easily led bunch, you see) and makes a break for it – Great Escape style – to the Big City, where it doesn’t take long for Shaun to get into all sorts of mischief. Hot on their hooves is Bitzer, the loyal but lazy sheepdog, and the Farmer, both voiced by John Sparkes. Or rather, mumbled by John Sparkes — in addition to not hearing a peep out of any of the animals (as per the Aardman tradition), none of the human characters in the film speak save the occasional nonverbal babble.

To suggest that the Shaun the Sheep Movie has been precision-tooled to keep both adults and children entertained in equal measure would be stretching it a little — this is a film that has been designed to appeal to very young audiences first and foremost. And rightly so. That said, there’s no shortage of cultural references and subtle visual gags to keep grown ups entertained. So while there is no discernible dialogue and the plot is far less demanding than the likes of Pirates! and Chicken Run, you won’t feel fleeced for a second. Not when the end result is so effortlessly charming.

Aardman rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as Disney/Pixar, DreamWorks and Studio Ghibli, but the Bristol-based studio’s commitment to traditional hand-crafted techniques together with its proclivity for infusing rich character driven stories with a quintessentially British sense of humour has resulted in a level of consistency that, for money, is unrivalled by any of its contemporaries. Shaun’s grand day out perhaps doesn’t quite reach the same giddy heights as, say, Paddington, but for sheer attention to detail and craftsmanship, this is on a par with anything we’ve been treated to so far from the claymation pioneers.

Published 6 Feb 2015

Tags: Aardman

Anticipation.

Anything from Aardman Animations is a must-see. Simple as.

Enjoyment.

Flocking marvellous.

In Retrospect.

Baa-rilliant.

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