UK Release Date: 6th February 2015
Runtime: 85 minutes
Director: Mark Burton, Richard Starzak
Writer: Mark Burton, Richard Starzak
Starring: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili
Synopsis: When they try to get rid of the Farmer in order to have a peaceful day of fun, Shaun and his friends realise that they can’t continue to live their lives until they get him back.
There are few filmmaking organisations in the world who have as much respect from the British public as Aardman. The guys behind Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit are a huge part of the British film industry. Their latest film brings popular television character Shaun the Sheep to the big screen for his own, feature-length solo adventure.
Shaun (Justin Fletcher), tired of his daily routine, hatches a plan to rid the flock of the Farmer (John Sparkes) for a day so that they can enjoy themselves. The plan initially works to perfection, but soon the sheep realise that they need the Farmer and must travel to the big city to get him back.
Rather bravely, Shaun the Sheep Movie maintains the central conceit of the television show – the silence of the characters. This isn’t a film in which Shaun and his fellow animals are given a voice and even the human characters remain silent, aside from an array of surprisingly expressive noises. Timothy Spall’s performance in Mr Turner would’ve been right at home in this world.
The natural charm of Shaun, and of the Aardman style in general, is present and correct in this film. There’s palpable blood, sweat and tears in every frame of Shaun the Sheep Movie, which is another example of the meticulous stop motion work that is the company’s trademark. A lot of the film gets by purely on the residual goodwill that comes out of Aardman’s hard work, because it’s a thoroughly unremarkable piece of work.
There are plenty of laughs to be had in Shaun the Sheep Movie, which has a really nice thread of subtle humour running through it. Toilet gags for the kids are there, but everything is stripped down and funnier as a result of that simplicity.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like much has been done in terms of making the film feel cinematic. By the halfway point, Shaun the Sheep Movie begins to feel like an over-stretched television episode rather than an experience worthy of a trip to the multiplex. In fact, by the time it moves into its third act, the threads of the story are beginning to fray and fall apart. Even at a slender 85 minutes, it’s still far too long for what there is to the narrative.
It would be wrong to say that Shaun the Sheep Movie is a bad film from Aardman, because there’s real joy to it. However, it doesn’t quite have the strength and imagination of something like Curse of the Were-Rabbit or The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists.
Aardman must continue to make feature films because they are one of the most intriguing voices in the UK film industry. But maybe Shaun should stay on CBBC for now.
Pop or Poop?
Shaun the Sheep is one of kids’ TV’s most adorable characters and this feature-length outing for Aardman’s loveable lamb is an awful lot of fun, even though it outstays its welcome a little.
There’s something of a problem with extending Shaun the Sheep Movie to feature-length, but it gets by perfectly well. The meticulous preparation and breath-taking artistry of Aardman is the main attraction.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.