Shaun the Sheep

Posted on August 6, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for rude humor
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Mild comic peril and mayhem, animal control officer, memory loss
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: August 7, 2015
Date Released to DVD: November 23, 2015 ASIN: B013H99VXC
Copyright 2015 Lionsgate
Copyright 2015 Lionsgate

“Shaun the Sheep is another adorably quirky animated film from Aardman, the folks behind “Wallace and Gromit” and “Chicken Run.” it is a wordless pleasure about a flock of sheep who have an adventure when they get bored with their idyllic but monotonous life on the farm and visit the big city. But they miss their farmer. And when they are ready to go home, the farmer is not there. They had accidentally transported him to the big city, where he got amnesia and now cannot remember who he is or where he lives.  Only the sheep can save the day.

Aardman films are made with sculpted figures shifted just one tiny movement at the time, and so lovingly hand-crafted that the audience can glimpse fingerprints on the characters. In a week, an animator may produce two or three seconds of film. And yet their movements are as fluid and intricately choreographed as a Jackie Chan stunt. And their faces are as expressive as any Oscar-winning actor.

That is especially important in this film because it is wordless. It is not silent — there are sound effects and a musical score and several well-chosen songs play on the soundtrack. Occasionally we hear a murmured mumble, a low-key British version of the adults’ muted horn sounds in the Charlie Brown shows. The kids in the audience with me loved it, laughing wildly, especially at a few potty jokes and some slapstick pratfalls. Don’t tell them, but children — and their families — will benefit from having to up their observational skills to stay on top of what is happening.

As Shaun and the flock dress up as humans to search for the increasingly bewildered farmer and evade the increasingly frenzied animal control officer and his electrified pinching grasper, their adventures are funny, exciting, and even poignant. The settings are witty and captivating, with some sly satire popping up to keep things brisk. It’s (forgive me) shear delight.

Parents should know that this film includes some bodily function humor (guy on toilet, sheep manure) and cartoon-style peril, head injury and memory loss.

Family discussion: Why did the sheep miss the farmer? Why was the haircut so popular?

If you like this, try: “The Wallace & Gromit” films, the “Shaun” television series, and “Chicken Run.”

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