A film with no dialogue that manages to speak volumes for the art of stop motion animation, all while being a creatively fun and child friendly, this is Shaun the Sheep. With animation going through constant changes that would make a supermodel faint, somehow, the art form that is stop-motion has been able to become the King’s jewel of the genre. From the creator of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, Nick Park returns to his fun loving mischievous farm raised sheep named Shaun as he and the rest of the flock travel in the big city in hopes of find their routine driven caregiver.
Boasting physical comedy that would make the old silent movie stars applaud, the heists and physical scenes of the film almost resemble your child’s LEGO contraptions with everything the characters do managing to build a newer scenario. With Shaun living his life like a scripted stage play, he gets fed up with the repetitive nature of his own existence. Even if just for a few hours, Shaun desires to change up the regulated rotation of his boring life, even if it means disrupting the balance of the farm they have grown accustomed too. Through some hilariously thought out ideas to make his hiatus from the norm become non-fiction, we are treated with some of the cutest ways to start trouble, even if they never meant to have it spread like wildfire.
For the parents and adults (like myself) choosing to see the film, you will appreciate the clear pop culture references that range from famous music photos (as seen above) to completely polar film properties like The Silence of the Lambs. Along with it’s witty pop culture references you will see a lot of today’s social norms whether it be the ridiculousness of trends and celebrity, to even…police brutality?! I’m reaching of course, but it all adds to the flavors that as sweet as it’s main lead sheep. Through all the hilariously done scenes, there is one thing we can’t undermine about this movie, and that is it’s heart. No real words are spoken beyond the songs that play through certain scenes and yet you feel a human connection through animals almost more than you might with live-action actors.
With this still being a kid’s film, parents can appreciate that it tells the importance of day to day morals kids should keep securely in their brains. Going back to poking fun at real world issues, there is a eye watering scene in a dog pound that highlights how tough it can be when people don’t see your true beauty, and it doesn’t take much for the impact to be felt. It’s a perfectly timed emotional turn to remind us that we as people should never look down on someone that looks different than us and that is something I feel parents and kids will hold with them once the film rolls onto the credits. It was something I wasn’t expecting, but it’s all the more appreciated and respected. Thankfully, the moments are brief and don’t fall into the overly dramatic category and the fun rolls on, but it let’s us know that this is more than a cutesy animated movie.
The chemistry between the sheep and the dog that herds them is so natural and refreshing to see in a film because they aren’t enemies, but they aren’t always buddies either. It becomes this brotherly relationship that you can’t help but adore and relate to and it effortlessly possesses the honest nature of brotherhood and friendship.
The villain is great as well because he isn’t this overly evil dog/sheep/pet napper off the streets, but rather a person like you or I who just wants some recognition for the hard work he puts in day in and day out. It’s a tale of love and the desire for adventure. In doing so, it chronicles our characters discoveries of much more than they ever bargained for, but also finding exactly what they were looking. Though there are dry spells in the film due to no speaking from any of the characters the muted scenes can occasionally wish for a word here or there, but its forgivable and overall, a minute issue with the film’s quality itself.
It’s funny and full of genuine heart and is definitely an A in my book. Shaun the Sheep is riddled with funny and quirky characters that fulfill the standards for physical humor while being created through the art of stop-motion animation. I encourage you all to see it no matter what age group, but if you have kids, it’s definitely worth the admission, and the fun worth having when going to the movies.