If you’d like to read the longer more detailed Shaun the Sheep Movie Review, here it is:
I have loved the BAFTA winning Shaun the Sheep TV show ever since it premiered in England in 2007. The endearing leader of his flock that bleats out the side of his mouth was originally introduced in the Oscar winning Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave in 1995. Since then he’s become hugely popular in the UK, and has some dyed in the wool fans in the US, as well as the rest of the world. The series has been sold to over 170 movies, and there’s even a 45-minute live stage show based on Shaun and the characters in his series in Cairo, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
When their exasperating yet beloved farmer gets whisked off in a runaway caravan and accidentally winds up in the “BIG CITY” (aka London), Shaun, his sheep dog Bitzer, and the flock, have to brave the dangers of the urban world, including animal control and human interaction, to find him and bring him back home safely.
Shaun is just as inventive and engaging as ever. Shaun’s cousin Timmy, who now has his own show Timmy Time, and to a lesser extent the Naughty pigs, are featured in the movie just enough to create a healthy curiosity for the TV shows where they get more screen time. Introduced is the new character Slip, an orphan snaggletoothed pup desperate for a home that serves to remind Shaun how lucky he and his clan really are.
Shaun the Sheep Movie has the same blend of British humour and slapstick silent film aesthetic that made the show an instant stop motion cartoon cult classic. That’s right, with the exception of some bleating, mumbling, and barking, there is no dialogue as such, making this movie with a huge heart, and the consistently clear communication of emotions and motivations, all the more impressive and compelling. Co-director Burton, after hearing it would be a wordless film, said he thought to himself “that’s such a crazy idea. I’ve got to be involved with that.”
Credit for keeping audiences’ interest also goes, in part, to the inherently expressive and highly detailed nature of stop motion animation, especially in the expert artistic hands of the creators at Aardman Studios. The movie required 20 different animators and 30 model makers, with 21 Shaun puppets and 354 character puppets used in total. In case none of those numbers impress you, i’ll mention that these puppets take constant care. It took 45 minutes to re-fleece one sheep. Lead animator of Shaun the Sheep Will Becher said initially the lack of dialogue proved a challenge. With Shaun, in particular, it was difficult, because unlike Wallace and Gromit, Shaun has no brow. Says Becher, “Usually, there can be lots of emotion from that area, which he doesn’t have, so we’ve tended to do a bit more with the characters’ arms, ears, general poses and body language.”
These animators know how to attract and keep an adult audience in thrall. From the sophisticated to the silly, writer/directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak reference a wide variety of films and pop culture references from The Silence of the Lambs & The Night of the Hunter to The Beatles Abbey Road, and any viewers who love Brit TV’s Mr. Bean, will recognize its influence, but the film also maintains a high paced, charming, and very funny storyline, as well as a message of cooperation, loyalty, and friendship that will appeal to children of all ages. Said co-director Starzak about the TV show, “It’s quite curious, because the series has been running on TV for over eight years, there’s a generation now at university who have grown up with it And they still watch it!”
I must also commend the clever Shaun the Sheep poster campaign spoofing other movies. It captures the cheeky spirit of the movie perfectly.