SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE

7.5 out of 10

Release Date: 6th February 2015

Director: Mark Burton & Richard Starzak

Voice Cast: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili, Richard Webber, Andy Nyman, Kate Harbour

Writer: Mark Burton & Richard Starzak

Trailer: SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE

REVIEW by Matt Usher below:

WHAT HAVE I SEEN / HEARD THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Justin Fletcher: Shaun The Sheep (TV)(voice), Tweenies (TV)(voice)
  • John Sparkes: Peppa Pig Movie (voice), Shaun The Sheep (TV)(voice), Peppa Pig (TV)(voice), The All New Alexei Sayle Show (TV), Naked Video (TV)
  • Omid Djalili: Molly Moon, Big Fat Gypsy Gangster,  Sex & The City 2, Mr Nice, Dead Man Running, The Infidel, Alien Autopsy, Grow Your Own, Anita & Me, Mean Machine, The Mummy
  • Richard Webber: Shaun The Sheep (TV)(voice)
  • Andy Nyman: Minions  (voice), ABCs of Death 2, Peaky Blinders (TV), Chuggington (TV) (voice), Kick Ass 2, The Tournament, Black Death, Dead Set (TV), Death At a Funeral (2007), The Brothers Bloom, Severance
  • Kate Harbour: Shaun The Sheep (TV)(voice), Bob The Builder (TV)(voice)
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One thought on “SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE

  1. SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE – review by Matt The Slug

    Disclaimer: It’s possible that some readers may regard this review as biased as I have been an unashamed fan of Aardman Animations since at least 1989. I also watched this in a double bill immediately after AGE OF KILL, a film which would make anything else look good. (If you’re looking for a thread of logic connecting these two films then I can only point at the titles, both of which employ dreadful syntax. Whereas the title AGE OF KILL accurately reflects the sheer awfulness of that film, the title SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE is about the only bad thing in this one.)

    Apparently it’s possible there are people ignorant of Shaun the Sheep. I shall briefly outline the career of this remarkable ovine individual. Shaun made his debut in the Wallace and Gromit film A CLOSE SHAVE (which astonishingly and disturbingly is now twenty years old). He was part of a flock of sheep destined to be turned into dog food by crazy capitalist cyberdog Preston, but was left behind following some mayhem and found his way to Wallace’s house where he proceeded to eat him out of house and home before aiding our heroes in defeating the villain.

    What happened next is unclear, but the tale resumes after a 12 year gap with Shaun becoming the eponymous lead of a long-running children’s television series which uses the same clay and stop-motion techniques, though Shaun himself seems (a) to have aged only a little and (b) not been slaughtered for food. We find him at Mossy Bottom Farm where he seems to have developed into something of a leader, or at least a fixer, for the flock (in his Wallace and Gromit debut he is but a dumb munching sheep). This series has proved successful enough to spawn its own spin-off, Timmy Time which focuses on the exploits of that titular lamb and which is, frankly, wasted on the pre-school audience it’s supposedly made for. And now Shaun graduates to cinema glory, with the disappointingly titled SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE.

    The film opens with a nostalgic prelude where we meet the main players in their younger days (this doesn’t necessarily contradict established continuity), as lambs frolic with a harmless puppy (Bitzer the sheep dog – surely also destined for his own spin-off at some point?), and their future farmer (looking not unlike the television and radio presenter Chris Evans). But time takes its toll and we find ourselves in the present, and our cast are on a treadmill of routine.

    One day the sheep fancy a day off, so they sabotage the farmer, sending him to sleep using the old counting sheep jumping over a fence trick. They then incarcerate him in a caravan which accidentally hurtles off to The Big City. As it does so the farmer suffers a blow to the head and loses his memory (an old and time-honoured comedy trope, but one which now necessitates some blurb on the end credits, basically saying ‘if you’ve had a bump on the head contact this charity’ because I’m sure there are loads of amnesiacs watching the film; or maybe it’s advice for the future? I’ll let you work out the problem with that) and ends up in hospital. Fortunately for the farmer, Bitzer has followed him and attempts to rescue him but ends up performing major surgery instead. Swiftly discharging himself, the farmer sets about to find his place in the world, and regain his identity. Alas he fails in this and instead becomes a celebrity hairstylist with a speciality for a just-sheared look.

    Meanwhile his sheep are going hungry, and the pigs, just as they did on Orwell’s farm, are beginning to throw their weight around. Shaun decides to head off to The Big City to rescue the farmer. The rest of the flock tag along. Shenanigans and set-pieces ensue: the sheep disguise themselves as humans, encounter a sadistic animal containment officer, lay waste to a fancy restaurant, inhabit a pantomime horse, and pay homage to the Beatles, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and The A Team (TV version I’m sure).

    One might cavil that the plot follows a simple and predictable path, and one would be correct, but that misses the point seeing as (a) the film is designed for very young people who haven’t yet learned the rules of plotting, and (b) it’s not about the plot. It’s about bits of plasticine getting into all sorts of amusing scrapes and distressing emotional quagmires (the bit in the junkyard is very sad). All the usual things that get said about this sort of film are true here: it’s charming, witty, innocent, made with warmth and commitment, and is a cut above much of the entertainment that adults foolishly foist upon themselves (honestly, why watch hooligan films when there’s stuff like this about?).

    Obviously the film is resplendent with sight-gags, running the gamut from corny to sublime (often simultaneously) (look out for a criminal dog with his credo tattooed on his knuckles). The film also metatextually engages both with its own merchandising (when Timmy disguises himself as a shoulder bag), and with its own history (when the pigs start watching Morph on the television).

    There is no dialogue, and one wonders why they bothered bringing in the likes of Andy Nyman and Omid Djalili merely to record them going ‘urg-argh’ every now and again (not a complaint, I’m just curious). Maybe the only problem with the film is that it uses two or three rather dull pop songs at crucial moments (I am not showing my age – I’d have said the same thing when I was eight). But they’re easily ignored and we can concentrate instead on the comical joys of watching sheep wearing headphones and driving tractors instead. Although the film perhaps hasn’t had the same exposure as some other Aardman films, this might be in with a chance of being their finest and most enduring feature yet (except for maybe CHICKEN RUN).

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