Another day, another terrific family film. After Big Hero 6, the half term fun continues with the latest Aardman animation, Shaun the Sheep Movie. It’s another bull’s eye for producer Nick Park and writer/directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak.
For the uninitiated, Shaun the Sheep first appeared in the classic Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave, before ending up in a superb spin-off TV series. In the film, the world of Shaun (ie the farm) is expanded as the Farmer ends up – through a series of farcical, surreal and utterly hilarious circumstances – in the big city with amnesia, thinking he is a celebrity hairdresser. Shaun and the rest of the sheep, along with Bitzer the dog, head into the city to find him, whilst trying to stay one step ahead of villainous animal catcher Trumper.
The animation is superb as usual, with Aardman’s genius for stop motion facial expression better than ever. The plot is every bit as whimsical and gag-laden as any previous Aardman outing, but what really sets this one apart is that it is essentially a hugely entertaining silent movie. Like the TV series there is no dialogue at all, other than incoherent human ramblings from the point of view of the animals.
Shaun the Sheep Movie is a fine expansion of the TV format, finding time for understated yet poignant themes about being thankful for what you have, the importance of taking a break from routine, and (with tongue only partially in cheek) the plight of homeless animals. All of this is woven into the superb mayhem and frequent belly laughs. Zany, offbeat and delightful, this might not quite reach the high water mark of Wallace and Gromit, but it comes fairly close. And did I mention it’s really, really funny?