When the Farmer gets lost in the big city, Shaun and friends head out to find him.
The character of Shaun the Sheep first appeared as a big player in Aardman’s 1995 short A Close Shave. 12 years later he got his own TV show and now, 20 years after his debut, a big screen outing.
Aardman’s output has become increasingly grand over the last few years, ever since The Curse of the Were Rabbit almost 10 years ago. CG double bill Flushed Away and Arthur Christmas were followed up by the very fine The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists.
But if you feel like the handmade look and feel has gone out of their productions, then Shaun the Sheep Movie (its actual title) is definitely one for you.
It’s a simple story of some farmyard animals trying to rescue their farmer in the big city, all told without a single intelligible word passing anyone lips. It’s a move which makes the feature totally universal, using mime, visual gags and lots of other methods to keep everyone in the loop.
The stop motion form continues to fascinate me, especially the way a lower cost show like this is put together. At times you can see the actual thumbprints of the animators in the features of the characters, while you wonder how they achieve effects like water and the many action moments.
Shaun is a film that’s more clearly aimed at the little ones than much of Aardman’s output (which is in keeping with the audience of the TV show) but there are some terrific sight-gags and references for the older folk.
It’s all a big gorgeous, which makes it a shame that Shaun starts to run out of steam after the first hour. There’s simply too little story to go around, and I noticed plenty of restless kids as the plot chugged into its last act. The 85 minute running time is brisk enough but don’t be surprised if this is the kind of show you watch in a couple of sitting on home video.
Still Shaun the Sheep movie looks delightfully ramshackle and Aardman’s confident in telling this word-free story shows them to still be near the top of the heap in animated matters.