Possibly the most innocent, light hearted and casual experience I have had in the cinema, Shaun the Sheep proves to be simple but unique fun.
Shaun, a young sheep in a flock, are tired of the same day-to-day routine on the farm, but when they play a trick on their farmer to get a day off things go awry; their farmer is lost in The Big City and they have to get him back!
I think a lot of people can forget, creator Nick Park first wrote the character of Shaun the Sheep in his Wallace and Gromit animated short A Close Shaveback in 1995. Since Ardman Animation Studios have grown a movie starring Shaun the Sheep has always been a possibility. Between the years of 2007 and 2010 he had a television show, but only now did the Shaun movie come to be.
First off, this movie has the sweet style of a silent film, which works wonders for a film with an entire cast of sheep and dogs. It sets it nicely apart from other claymation animation pieces, it even sets it apart from other Ardman films which have a tendency to rely on star voice actors far too heavily.
As someone who grew up loving Park’s original Wallace and Gromit shorts (A Grand Day Out, the awesome The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave) I found a lot to like here; it felt like a return to lazy childhood Sunday afternoons, or Boxing Day Creature Comfort features. It is a lot better than the bloated Curse of the Wererabbit.
So as I said the film is a silent film style experience in that our heroes don’t speak, being sheep, but also the human characters don’t speak actual words; they instead grunt and “babble” to give the appearance of what they are saying. This makes the popular music choices that spring up regularly feel even more punchy and fun to listen to. It makes for a very quiet, casual experience (you will hear people eating their popcorn!)
Of course there’s plenty of slapstick action comedy, that is Ardman Animation and Nick Park’s bread and butter after all. Our woolly heroes are pursued through the city by an aggressive animal containment officer, making a lot of the film a manic chase with sheep trying to blend in with funny consequences!
I will say though, it isn’t exactly a big screen experience. I could have watched Shaun the Sheepas a Saturday morning feature. I left this viewing very late so I was in a small theatre, but this didn’t bother me with this film.
Some people might find it too casual and too happy, but it was exactly what I was expecting and it was a good bit of light fun.