Review: Shaun The Sheep is Funny And Charming For All Ages
Title: Shaun the Sheep
Director: Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
Screenplay: Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
Summary: When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with the Farmer, a caravan and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City and it’s up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home.
There is a point that I argue very often when it comes to children’s movies. There is a difference between a movie that is intended for children and a movie that is intended for families. A children’s movie will appeal to the kids in the audience while the parents either zone out and think about all of the errands they need to run or take a nap. A family movie will keep the kids entertained and there are plenty of things to keep the adults in the audience just as engaged. I didn’t know that much about Shaun the Sheep before going into the screening, aside from the various press materials that have been showing up in my inbox for the last few months.
Shaun the Sheep manages to accomplish a lot for a movie with no dialogue including great pop culture references and drawing a lot of emotion from the audience.
The studio that made Shaun the Sheep are Aardman Animations, the same company that made the Wallace and Gromit movies in the past. If you’re a fan of those cartoons then you’re going to love Shaun the Sheep. In true Aardman Animations fashion there isn’t a single word of dialogue, but it manages to pack a bigger emotional punch than other animated kids movies like Home. There is a truly sad moment toward the end of the second half where I half thought that I was going to start crying which is amazing considering the animation style and no one saying a word that made sense.
The pop culture references are in abundance but the ones that stood out to me were the ones that adults would understand but the kids wouldn’t. There are a lot of jokes for the kids as well, but the ones that they slip in for the grownups are the best in my opinion. The pace breezes by in a quick eighty-five minutes. The movie doesn’t stop to focus too much on character building because that’s not what it’s here for. The movie is here to take Shaun and his flock of sheep into the city for wacky adventures. The small character beats, however, do work well.
The animation is also beautiful. It’s some of the best stop motion claymation that I’ve seen in a long time. They don’t spend a moment trying to make anyone look like a real sheep or a human being, but the exaggerated character designs just make the move all the better. They also give the various animals quite a lot of room to emote, though Shaun does most of his through his eyes which is so hard to do in claymation. There are times when the eyes in claymation are the thing that make it feel like you’re looking into a void, but Shaun the Sheep does a great job of making sure you know how the characters are feeling.
Shaun the Sheep is a very cute, small production film that I believe succeeds as a true family movie. The kids will love all of the slapstick humor while the more subtle visual puns will make the adults in the theater laugh. I’d also recommend staying through the credits for a cute little scene at the end (also so you can get the theme forever stuck in your head like I have).