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Shaun the Sheep Movie - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Shaun the Sheep Movie
Directing: B+
Acting: B-
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+
Animation: A-

Shaun the Sheep is easily the silliest thing in movie theatres right now -- or, at least, the silliest movie that's still worth seeing. Made by the same studio that brought us the wonder Flushed Away (2006), as well as Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit movies, it has a singular sensibility in both tone and style. Presumably it matches that of the British television series on which it's based, but like probably most Americans, I had never heard of it before the release of this film.

As the title suggests, this is a movie about sheep. Specifically, a little one named Shaun, but with many of his sheep friends. And a dog. And the farmer, who suffers amnesia after an accident and winds up unwittingly putting his sheep-shearing skills to use as an inner-city hair stylist. This is all because Shaun grows bored with the day to day grind of farm living and decides he wants to take "a day off," with a trip into the city. The farmer winds up in the city too, after the sheep put him to sleep by tricking him into falling asleep while counting them jumping over a fence (a gag used more than once, and elicits giggles every time). But the farmer is asleep in a travel trailer that rolls down the hill into the city. Just trust me, it all makes sense when you watch the movie.

There's not a single line of dialogue. The sheep all just make sheep sounds. The dog whines and barks, and makes other noises when put under the spell of a nearby bone. The farmer, and the Animal Containment villain we later meet, make human sounds of their own, but never anything intelligible. In script form, this must have been very interesting to read. There are actually many voice credits, even though no single distinguishable word is ever actually uttered.

Thus, Shaun the Sheep is rather impressive in its feat of keeping an audience fully engaged for 85 minutes. There's a full story arc here, it's just told in movement, most of them consistently funny sight gags. It's a little like watching a silly silent movie, except not silent.

The stop-motion animation is its own special kind of charming. Whenever the sheep "talk" (or, more accurately, vocalize in their sheep ways), their mouths are rendered right on the sides of their faces. The movements have an impressive fluidity, given the nature of this type of animation. And the humor is delightfully ridiculous: when Shaun finds himself in animal containment, the facility includes all kinds of animals -- a lizard; a turtle; even a harmonica-playing goldfish. The farmer becomes a local celebrity with his haircuts, which he gives while holding all the clients like they're sheep he's trying to shear.

Ultimately, the story is about Shaun and the rest of his farm animal friends finding the farmer and returning him home in an effort to restore his memory. What this movie is about is secondary, though. It's all in the details, and the deeper into them you can look the more fun it is. The humor isn't exactly sophisticated, but the animated rendering of it is. In any case, this is one movie you can take children to and be just as entertained by it as they are, and for the same reasons. Shaun the Sheep is just pure fun, at least in the context of dopey British humor.

Little Shaun causes silly chaos in SHAUN THE SHEEP.

Overall: B+
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