Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Movie Review - Shaun the Sheep Movie

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)
Directed by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak

I can certainly understand why Shaun the Sheep Movie failed at the US box office.  [And it's not just because of that awful title.  I mean, where's the "The" at the beginning?  Or where's the "The" between "Sheep" and "Movie?"  Just odd.]  There's absolutely an innate Britishness to the proceedings and when that's coupled with a film in which there is no dialog and only sound effects, it's understandable that it could be a bit off-putting for the masses.  However, it's a darn shame because Shaun the Sheep Movie is an amusing, fluffy (no sheep pun intended), lighthearted romp that had me smiling quite a bit and laughing out loud more than I did during Pixar's lauded Inside Out which, while good, lacked a little something in the emotion department for me.

Shaun the Sheep Movie doesn't necessarily aim for the warmth of a typical Pixar movie, but that heart is still there below the surface as our title character -- a small sheep named Shaun -- finds himself disenchanted with the rigamarole of everyday life and decides to try and plan a day of rest and relaxation away from his owner -- The Farmer -- who, while kind to his sheep doesn't realize the monotony of their existence.  Unfortunately for Shaun, his plan goes awry when after locking the Farmer in a trailer, the vehicle becomes unhitched and sends the guy careening through the streets of London, eventually hitting his head and losing all memory of his former life.  When the Farmer doesn't return, Shaun and his fellow sheep head to the Big City to try and bring back their owner.

While I've always held a fondness toward stop-motion animation, Aardman Animation Studios (who were really one of the premiere stop motion producers in the 1980s/90s) hasn't been tremendously successful when translating their British sensibilities to theatrical features, not quite hitting the mark in my opinion.  Shaun the Sheep Movie changes that as it finds a great balance between animation, humor, story, and all-around animation quality.  The story by Mark Burton (who also co-directed) keeps things simple and short -- which is a good thing as I found myself getting a tiny bit restless towards the end of this dialog-free picture -- and the overall colorful aesthetic and charming sentimentality won me over from the opening scenes.

Shaun the Sheep Movie definitely flew under the radar at the box office, but I highly recommend checking it out as its simplicity is one of its biggest virtues.

The RyMickey Rating:  B+

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