Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) ***

If you have kids, then you are going to have to take them to the movies once in a while, and you could do a lot worse than “Shaun the Sheep Movie.” While it isn't exactly “Wall-E” level, this animated film is funny and cute, and it won't make you groan.

The “Shaun the Sheep” clay-mation TV show is a “Wallace & Gromit” spinoff, featuring the same style of stop-motion animation. It's been around on the BBC since 2007, chronicling the antics of a clueless farmer and his farm animals. There's the faithful dog, always trying to keep the barnyard orderly, a trio of villainous pigs, and of course, the herd of sheep. Shaun is the de facto leader of the herd due to his penchant for cooking up crazy schemes, usually aimed at getting a delicious treat or at getting back at those pigs for something. The cool thing about the show is that there is no dialogue. Everything is told via action, and at most the characters produce the occasional unintelligible grunt.

It turns out these characters hold up reasonably well to a full-length feature. In “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” the animals find themselves getting tired of their daily farm routine, so Shaun hatches a plan to get them a day off. When the scheme goes awry, the farmer winds up in the Big City with amnesia, and the animals have to navigate the concrete jungle to get him back home.

I won't lie. There where times when I got a little bored, but I was never downright disgusted by the movie. The one baby sheep is perhaps a bit cutesy, and there are a couple of fart jokes to keep the kids happy, but the movie never stoops to the level of kid-pandering that you get in, say, an “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movie. They never break out into a hip-hop dance number, as has become standard in most cartoons. Shaun the sheep is mostly delightful, with his sideways grin and double-thumbs-up. Also, I like the way the story is told without dialogue, like an old silent film. Do kids like it? Of course they do. They like everything.

3 stars out of 5

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