As a complete-ist, I have to finish as much of a thing as possible. So when watching Oscar-nominated movies, I’m obligated to watch the animated features as well, because I have to. It’s totally not because I want to. Except maybe for this one. Ok, all of them. I really like animated movies, and those that Aardman produces are some of my favorites (have you seen The Pirates!? It’s fantastic. Also Chicken Run is classic.). The stop motion style is just amazing, and they do such a wonderful job in general. So when I saw that the Shaun the Sheep Movie was on my Oscar Watch list, I was totally ok with having to watch it. And when presented with a choice to rent or buy from video on-demand…I went with buy. Because there were two little girls who might have been interested in it too.
StSM is set in the idyllic farmlands of Northern England, a place I am very familiar with after spending a week walking across that country (I did the Hadrian’s Wall hike from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway). So seeing the sheep who are now the main characters in a setting I was quite familiar with was good fun. And it took me a good 15 minutes to figure out that there is NO DIALOGUE in this movie! After figuring it out, I was quite surprised, but pleasantly so – there’s never a need for it, and the noises that the characters make (animal noises for animals, and other non-verbal noises for humans) fit perfectly within the aesthetic of the film.
The story is this – Shaun and his sheep friends are getting a little tired of the tedium of farm life. The Farmer and his dog Bitzer aren’t much more appreciative of their good life. So on a whim, Shaun and the others trick the Farmer into falling asleep, and then tuck him away in his little camp-trailer (or caravan, if we’re being proper British). Unfortunately, things go awry, and the trailer sails off down the road, and drops into the Big City. Once he steps out of the camper, the Farmer gets hit on the head and forgets all about his farm life.
At the same time, Shaun and his friends discover that “relaxing” all the time isn’t worth it, and perhaps they need their farmer back. So they head into the city to find him. And because sheep walking around the city would be unacceptable, they find a thrift store and dress up as “humans”. It’s bizarre and awesome.
Unfortunately for all our characters, there’s a villainous animal control agent wandering the streets of the Big City. He’s on the lookout for stray animals, and when he cottons on that there are sheep on the loose, he will stop at nothing to capture them. I won’t spoil the ending, but it is very satisfying all around. There are so many cute winks to adults, and a few nods to other Aardman pictures, so despite being dialogue free, it’s family friendly, but not boring. In fact, the music is quite catchy, and I have to admit that I have had the theme song from the end credits pop into my head on a number of occasions. And the girls LOVED it, so I think it’s a good one all around.
The Oscars are this Sunday, and I’m having a few people over. I may do a final rundown next week of the other Oscar-nominated films that I saw, but for now, you’ll have to make do with my reviews of these ones.
More Information: “Shaun the Sheep Movie”, written by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak (based on characters created by Nick Park), directed by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak. Available on DVD/Blu-Ray, On Demand and VOD (Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, etc.)..
Nominations: Best Animated Feature Film.