Yesterday, we went to see Shaun The Sheep Movie with Ben’s grandparents. They’re not fans of the show, they just like sheep. They used to be farmers y’see, so instead of that typical ‘old people’ smell, there’s just a faint hint of manure. Anyway, on with the Shaun the Sheep Movie review.
I’m a big fan of Aardman. I love Wallace & Gromit and Shaun The Sheep. The stop motion animation is a thing of beauty and it’s just pure, unadulterated family fun. I’ve watched Shaun The Sheep – the TV show – on CBBC for many years. My whole family like it and it’s become somewhat of a tradition to watch it together on Christmas day (not sure how that tradition came about, but still). Mike… he’s not as big a fan. He likes it an acceptable amount.
So, to the film. One thing that I noticed was that it was quite slow paced for the most part. At the start, this was perhaps done to highlight the theme of the same boring, repetitive days on the farm, but throughout it felt a bit slow at times. I think this stems from the TV show, which, being no more than 10 minutes long, are often very quick paced to fit everything in. It seems that with the jump to cinema, they had to kind of drag it out a bit to fit the time slot. However, I was pleased to see that the characters had reverted back to their original design from the first series of the TV show (click here to see the difference). In the later series, they changed the mouth parts, giving the farmer a five o’clock shadow for example. I’m assuming this was to make the animation easier – they animate the mouth by having a number of different expressions for each sound and change the mouth part when they speak.
The plot was not unique. The story was that the farmer accidentally ends up in the city with memory loss. Whilst he creates a new life for himself there, Shaun and his fellow sheep track the farmer down and try to bring him back to the farm. The idea of taking the main character from their natural environment and putting them into our world has been done many times and often spoils it for me. The reason it doesn’t tend to work well is that they’re trying to make us believe that it’s in the real world, but people’s reactions to the characters aren’t real. Take Scooby Doo for example. In the live action films, nobody thought to look twice at the huge talking dog. In cartoons you can get away with this a bit more. This film handled the task quite well I’d say, with the sheep trying to hide as much as they can and appearing in disguise when in public. The disguises were not infallible and wouldn’t work in the real world, but it was a good attempt that lead to a lot of the humour.
When we bought our tickets, the woman serving told us that she’d seen the movie and enjoyed it. She also noted that it was surprisingly more for adults than children. We found this to be untrue. The humour was quite basic, with a lot of slapstick and silly jokes. There was the odd clever joke, but the children were definitely laughing (or crying) more than the adults. There were a few moments in which I laughed aloud, mainly in a scene set in a restaurant where they are in disguise and trying to blend in by copying the other diners. This goes wrong when the diner drops his cutlery and burps and the sheep copy him. Here’s a clip, but don’t watch it if you don’t want to spoil it.
One thing I love about Wallace & Gromit is the subtle humour and the puns. They often have things in the background (i.e. shop names) or a lot of puns flying around. For example, in the most recent short film, A Matter of Loaf and Death, everything was bread related and in the feature film Curse of the Were-rabbit everything was vegetable related. I love this kind of humour and writers Nick Park and Bob Baker are geniuses when it comes to the scripts and the jokes. Sadly this movie wasn’t written by either of them, so it does lose a lot of the trademark humour. There were a few subtle jokes that I did notice, like on a stop/go sign, instead of arrows they had red/green painted gloves stuck to them. I do like clever little details like that.
Usually at this point in a review we’d start talking about the actors or voiceover artists and their performances in the film, but with this film it’s a bit different. The sheep mainly talk in ‘meeeh’ noises and the humans just mumble, so there’s no real dialogue in the film. I am always amazed at films like this that manage to have a strong story and good humour with barely any dialogue. Justin Fletcher stars as Shaun, while Omid Djalili features as the film’s villain, Trumper. I didn’t even know that Justin Fletcher – famed CBBC/CBeebies presenter – did the voice of Shaun in the film and television series, so I was quite surprised to learn this when reading the credits. Djalili was unrecognisable in his role to be honest. His nonsensical ramblings could have been voiced by anyone, so it seems a bit odd to cast a celebrity in such a role.
There were a few more appearances from celebrities in the form of the music. During the film we heard a song from Eliza Doolittle and over the end credits we had a new song/rap from Rizzle Kicks feat. Shaun the Sheep. Although the final song was okay, it was a big disappointment that the theme from the television show was not used in the film. Parts of it were used for the incidental music, but it would have been nice to have Vic Reeves singing the familiar tune at the start. There was even a perfect moment for it to be slotted in too. The film’s main song, Feels Like Summer – sung by Ash’s Tim Wheeler – was a nice little tune that was integrated into the film well.
Overall, the film successfully moved the characters from TV to film. Much of the brilliance of Shaun The Sheep was brought onto the big screen and it felt like the same characters. The scale of the film was also very impressive. A big city with lots of hustle and bustle going on is obviously much harder to animate than a quiet country farm, so they did well to recreate city life in stop motion. Although the plot wasn’t especially innovative and the humour was lacking somewhat, it was an enjoyable film. I don’t think they should do another Shaun The Sheep film. It works so much better as the short cartoons on TV.
Our rating: (3.5 / 5)