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    Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015): Movie Review

    “A woolly-warm and enjoya-baa-ble sheepish search-in-the-big-city adventure .”  

    When it comes to clay animated features, Aardman Animations are perhaps the masters. Their resume includes the 2000’s sleeper hit Chicken Run, 2005’s Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and 2011’s Arthur Christmas. Now, the studio create the big-screen adaptation of Shaun the Sheep, a popular television series based on a character introduced in the 1995’s Wallace and Gromit short called A Close Shave. Written and directed by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak, Shaun the Sheep Movie features our bleating friends’ great adventures in the unfamiliar and quite scary Big City.

    The film opens depicting the daily grind at Mossy Bottom Farm where the balding, ginger-haired, bespectacled Farmer and his bright, sheepdog Bitzer tend a flock of eight. The usual jovial routine, especially involving shearing, becomes weary and mundane for Shaun and his buddies, prompting them to seek a temporary break from the monotony. Conniving with an opportunistic duck, the herd lulls the Farmer to sleep inside a travel trailer. Immediately, they take over the house. However, Bitzer spoils the fun and stops the party.

    A more challenging incident ensues. The caravan unmoors and the Farmer is transported to the Londonesque Big City. While Bitzer chases after him, the Naughty Pigs occupy the house. Unable to reach the feeds stored high in the barn, Shaun figures out his next move. Instinctively, he embarks on a double-decker bus and no sooner plump ewe Shirley, feeble lamb Timmy and the rest of the flock follow him into the Big City.

    Meanwhile, the Farmer suffers memory loss due to a heavy blow to his head. After being hospitalized, the Farmer fortunately ends up being a celebrity hairstylist using his sheep-shearing skill. Disguising themselves as human, the sheep roam around the city in search of their master. However, merciless officer Trumper catches Shaun during a restaurant ruckus. Encountering Bitzer and homeless dog Slip inside the jail-like animal compound, Shaun plans a great escape and a massive search mission for the amnesia-inflicted Farmer.

    Following its television series format, Shaun the Sheep Movie is absolutely child-friendly, tastefully hilarious, and charmingly sweet. Being deprived with dialogues, animals communicate through squeaks, some baas and other expressions and gestures, while human beings converse in gibberish. Its characters are lovable, especially titular Shaun with his insane curiosity, witty innocence and hands-down ingenuity. Though low-key, other members of the flock provide extra excitement and comic relief.

    Inarguably, the film is humor-plenty and its gags understandable, even by preschoolers. The scene where the sheep’s mouths slip sideways sporadically is always a welcome surprise, as well as Bitzer’s predictable weakness to anything boney. The movie even includes a butt joke which does not come offensive and disrespectful. Other decent humorous set pieces include those in the fancy restaurant, the luxurious hair salon, the oppressive animal compound and its dig on social media. Perhaps, the most clever and funniest point of the movie is the live chain of sheep jumping off a fence, lulling the Farmer and the enemy officer to sleep. Additionally, the non-verbal comedy is made more alive and dynamic with the film’s well-detailed background, including the farm and it’s the puddles and the street scenes in the Big City. 

    Shaun the Sheep Movie also has a story that is easy to follow and understand. Simply said, it is about the flock’s adventure in the Big City as they look for their “missing” master. But more than the story, it is the film’s little lessons that make it touching, special and memorable. Shaun, the herd, Bitzer and the Farmer share a common bond and a warm feeling of affection akin to a family. So when the Farmer, who is yet to recover his memory, drives Shaun out of the salon, it is very heart-breaking, more when the black-faced sheep shed a tear or two. It incites a feeling of defeat and immense sadness. The movie also slips a message or two about pet adoption and wearing of protective devices.

    Lastly, the film gives homage to a number of films. Most apparent is 1998's Babe: Pig in the City upon which the present movie’s plot is mostly similar with. Other movie references include The Silence of the Lambs (the Hannibal Lecter-looking cat), Cape Fear and The Night of the Hunter

    Overall, Shaun the Sheep Movie is funny, sweet, gentle and moving. It is true to its dialogue-free clay animated presentation. In its short screen time of roughly 85 minutes, it leaves lasting messages about love, loyalty and support.


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