Aardman studios do it again as animation, Shaun the Sheep, comes to us in film form. With Mark Burton and Richard Starzak leading the flock, there’s hope yet that this film will live up to the expectations of its television series.
The adaptation gets off to a riotous start when Shaun (voiced by Justin Fletcher) gets sick of the 9-5 routine and decides to give himself a day off. However, when the lead sheep’s cunning ploy doesn’t quite go the way he expected, the farmyard friends suddenly find themselves flocking to the big city. From the high streets to hospitals, not one stone goes unturned as the curious animals search high and low for the farmer (voiced by John Sparkes) while they go paw for paw against the city’s cold and cruel animal control service.
As with most of Aardman’s work, Shaun the Sheep employs the nostalgic, waxy, playful brand of animation we’ve come to associate with the studio. It is clear, well-defined and made understanding the characters a breeze, despite the complete lack of dialogue. Having said that, the voice acting is also oddly of a high calibre, having had more of a challenging opportunity to shine. The cast are well-timed, imaginative and lively, although there is a frequency of burping that borders on vulgar.
The foray of music and pop culture parody is a nice touch to the storytelling. Even though the upbeat animation may have relied on it too much at times, it is still a source of enjoyment for families and no doubt provides something for the new viewers to sink their teeth into.
With a big reputation to live up to, it’s safe to say the movie is by no means “sheepish” (yes, I said it!) when it comes to pleasing people. From start to finish, it demonstrates a lively tendency to appeal to a broad audience. A film for children, as well as parents, adult sensibilities will be delighted by the layers of storytelling that has led to such national treasures such as Wallace & Gromit.
Wholesome, fun and family-friendly, Shaun the Sheep is a film that all people can enjoy. Though it might have overestimated people’s interests in pop culture, its silliness and quintessentially British mannerisms are a welcome source of charm and delight at the cinema. It is a film for audiences of all creeds, and without giving too much away, there are certainly a few rewarding surprises for the loyal fans of this franchise. It’s a family film that ticks all the boxes.