Shaun the Sheep Movie

 

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Would a TV favourite transfer successfully to the big screen? A pointless question because Shaun the Sheep Movie is shear fun from start to finish.

 

Shaun the Sheep Movie

 

Opening out animated shorts made for television can have problems. It worked well for Postman Pat, although that character lacks the imagination of Aardman Animation’s output. Nick Park and his team have succeeded in all their endeavours, in TV shorts such as Timmy Time or Shaun the Sheep, or medium-length adventures such as A Close Shave and The Wrong Trousers, or full-length features such as Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, where they have turned up trumps.

 

In making Shaun the Sheep Movie, Aardman have taken the lovable characters of Shaun and his ovine chums, their Farmer and Bitzer his dog (a kind of Gromit lookalike) out of the comfort zone that is Mossy Bottom Farm to venture into the Big City. Shaun is finding that every day is very much like the day before (c.f. Groundhog Day or here perhaps Sheepdog Day?), so the animals contrive to lock the Farmer in his caravan to keep him out of the way while they escape for the day. Unfortunately, the caravan breaks free and Mr Farmer bangs his head and suffers memory loss while also heading for town. Arriving in the Big City he, an experienced sheep shearer no less, is offered a job as a stylist in a hair salon. The adventure then continues with Shaun and his recalcitrant sheep-mates trying to get their boss back to Mossy Bottom. To avoid detection by a man from the animal pound, the resourceful members of this herd of sheep dress up as humans in order to get into the hospital where the Farmer is recovering from his traumatic accident.

 

The film is hilarious from start to finish and the detail in the stop-motion animation is amazingly dextrous and surreal, full of in-jokes and moments that are breathtakingly imaginative. The animation throughout is well up to Aardman’s always taxing standards and there are some notable names doing the voice-overs for the non-existent dialogue that is reminiscent of rhubarbing extras. The whole show runs at a pace that is never less than top speed, reminding one of the heady days of Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry. Shaun the Sheep Movie certainly deserved its fifty award nominations including the Oscars, the Baftas, the Golden Globes and the London Critics’ Circle, but sadly its only win was from the Toronto Film Critics Association who obviously have more taste than the rest of the reviewers put together. P.S. Don’t leave before the final credits are over, as the jokes carry on until the very end.

 

MICHAEL DARVELL

 

Voices of  Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili, Richard Webber, Kate Harbour, Tim Hands, Andy Nyman, Simon Greenall, Emma Tate.

 

Dir and Screenplay Mark Burton and Richard Starzak, based on characters created by Nick Park, Pro Paul Kewley and Julie Lockhart, Ph Charles Copping and Dave Alex Riddett, Pro Des Matt Perry, Ed Sim Evan-Jones, Music Ilan Eshkeri.

 

Aardman Animation/StudioCanal/Anton Capital Entertainment-StudioCanal.

85 mins. UK/France. 2015. Rel: 6 February 2015. Cert. U.