Shaun the Sheep, like Wallace & Gromit, exists in a rose-tinted neverwhere, free from iPads, iPhones and – one suspects – indoor toilets and central heating. It’s a world where kids still wear short trousers and spend their Summers with scuffed knees drinking lashings of ginger beer. A world where penguins are super villains, dogs are under-appreciated sidekicks and Lancastrian terraces are hotbeds of intrigue and passion. Fortunately, for those of us who share Aardman Animation’s wonderfully skewed world vision, The Shaun the Sheep The Movie is 85-minutes of pure joy.
It’s a bit scary to realise that the little sheep with the big attitude is now 20-years-old, having made his debut in the Aardman short, A Close Shave, way back in 1995. He has since become the star of his own series and was voted the nation’s most popular children’s TV character in 2014.
The secret to Shaun’s success has been keeping it simple. Shaun is dialogue free and peopled – or should that be sheeped – with character archetypes that are easy to recognise and even easier to love.
The story sees Shaun and the flock travelling to the Big City to rescue the amnesiac Farmer, who has fallen into the murky world of celebrity hairdressing … And yes it’s as wonderfully silly as it sounds.
The decision to stick to the same dialogue-free format of the TV shorts for a full-length movie is brave to say the least. However it works well, with music providing a surprisingly appropriate and humorous commentary to the action. The plot has enough depth to keep even the most twitchy tweeny entertained. The pace is upbeat, without being hyper. The humour is juvenile rather than puerile. And while Shaun has its fair share of fart jokes, there are also enough nods to the likes of T2, Taxi Driver, and the absurdities of fashion, to ensure grown-up smirks. There are also plenty of those ‘important’ educational elements that responsible parents look for when choosing films to share with their children. Things like the importance of friendship, of doing the right thing, and always following your heart. Oh, and never letting pigs into your home. They’ll wear your undies and wreck up the place.
Aardman have a knack for making the everyday epic. Who needs caped-crusaders when you can have flocks of fun with a hero that’s best ba-aa none? Ewe’ll love it.