Let me start off by saying that I absolutely love Aardman studios. I grew up watching Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit and of course, Shaun the Sheep. So I hope you grasp my full meaning when I say I believe this to be the best film or short Aardman’s offered up yet. With almost non-stop references, visual gags and just enough heart, this is a film that lives up to the legacy of other Aardman films.
The best part is you don’t have to be familiar with the TV series at all, though it does help. The movie opens by explaining the backstory of the farm, how all the animals and the Farmer used to be all happy and carefree.
We then cut to the drudgery of everyday life, and Shaun wants a day off. He and his sheep buddies form a genius plan to achieve this, but unfortunately, things go south and they have to go off to the big city to rescue the now amnesiac Farmer.
The show itself always had similar plotlines, but they were only shorts, not feature length films.
A dangerous trap directors often fall into is thinking they need to add more to the story to increase the runtime when the source material is strong enough on its own.
Fortunately, the movie does not succumb to this, and keeps the overall tone and spirit of the show quite well.
One thing to remember is that the movie, with the exception of the soundtrack and various animal noises, is silent. Absolutely no dialogue. This can be a tad off-putting to some viewers, but it doesn’t detract from the humor at all, rather the lack of words enhances it.
Background jokes and references are the only ways a silent movie for kids can get jokes across, and Shaun the Sheep does them perfectly.
There are so many references to other movies like Silence of the Lambs, The Wolverine, Empire Strikes Back and The Shawshank Redemption to name a few.
Another thing silent movies have a hard time conveying is heavy emotion. Not true for this flick. Be warned, here follow some spoilers, but nothing too major.
There’s a scene at the end of the second act where the sheep find the Farmer, but he doesn’t remember them and shoos them away.
The look of hurt, sadness and betrayal on Shaun and Bitzer’s faces is almost too painful to see, something I definitely didn’t expect from stop motion animation. One of the small children in the audience actually started crying.
For a movie that’s based on a show that’s normally extremely lighthearted, that came completely out of nowhere. Here end the spoilers.
The only complaint I have with the movie is that it does tend to drag a bit, mostly at the beginning.
It takes awhile for the action to really get going, and the movie has a relatively short runtime (84 min) already.
But once it finds its stride, it keeps the momentum going no problem.
All in all, this would be a great movie to take home and watch with your family. While I personally believe Inside Out will take home the Oscar this year, I believe this devious little sheep may just give it a run for its money. If you can’t catch it in theaters, definitely find it on DVD.
I give this movie 8.5/10 stars.