In 1995, Aardman Animation unleashed the third Wallace And Gromit short onto the world, cleverly titled A Close Shave. In that short, the world was introduced to the character of Shaun The Sheep, an adorable trouble maker who had a knack for escaping and outwitting the humans who cared for him. Two decades, and two successful television spinoffs, later, Shaun now has his name in lights as Shaun The Sheep has finally crossed the pond after debuting in his native UK back in February. It’s safe to say that the wait was more than worth it.
Tired of everyday life on the farm, Shaun (Justin Fletcher) and his flock decide to cause a little mischief and put their Farmer (John Sparkes) to sleep so that they may rule the roost and enjoy the comforts of human life. This is cut short by a chain of events that lead to the Farmer’s accidental transport to the big city, which puts the flock in jeopardy with no one to take care of them. Armed with determination, and a photo, they’ll make their way to The Big City in search of their Farmer. That is, if the villainous Trumper (Omid Djalili) lets them get past his watchful eye.
Shaun The Sheep is the perfect case of when a film adaptation clearly works, mostly because Shaun himself is the textbook example of a spinoff gone right. Shaun, while making his debut with Wallace And Gromit, has never been hampered by a forced connection or shoe-horned references to those popular characters. He’s been given his own set of friends, and a different setting to have his own adventures in, thus producing a different product that just happened to start in another franchise. So when the time came for directors Richard Starzak and Mark Burton to craft a big-screen adventure for this wildly popular character, success was already in the blueprints.
The entire film is told through pantomime, musical cues, and physical humor – as the dialogue is reduced to gibberish that’s similar to something you’d hear in a round of The Sims. This doesn’t ruin Shaun The Sheep. In fact, it enhances the visual storytelling the film focuses on delivering through a blend of stop-motion and CGI enhanced animation. That’s not to say the vocal cast is on auto-pilot though, as the performances of all involved still need to carry the emotional weight of the picture on their backs. Basically, if you’re not laughing during Shaun The Sheep, you’re going to be crying as the film packs enough emotional wallop with its story of a flock of sheep that just want to get home, and the stray (and ugly) dog who tries to help them while dreaming of a home of her own.
There’s been no shortage of children’s entertainment in theaters this year, but Shaun The Sheep is the best kids flick I’ve seen since Paddington. It presents a broad spectrum of humor and emotion that can keep an audience of all ages engaged, but most important, it’ll keep the kids with their eyes and minds locked on the screen. If you’ve got kids that have already seen Minions or Inside Out, and are looking for the next fun ride at the movies, take them to see Shaun The Sheep. But if you’re an adult who just happens to be a Wallace And Gromit fan, or a lover of British Humor, then don’t let that stop you from enjoying the film, as well.