Thursday, July 30, 2015

Film Festival Recap: Shaun the Sheep : The Movie

If you know anything at all about Aardman Animations' work, you will know that they are as reliable as Pixar in creating quality stuff, so I didn't have much apprehension when I went to see Shaun the Sheep: The Movie at the European Film Festival this year. I knew I was probably going to enjoy it.

Aardman Animations is behind the characters Wallace and Grommit who are charming, but I don't love them as much as I do the characters of the Mossy Bottom Farm crew - a community of sheep, a responsible dog, some piggish pigs and a slightly dim witted farmer. All are designed in the signature fashion of this company. The characters are awkward, long legged creatures with little white teeth and awkward smiles. Shaun is a very intelligent sheep who is the natural leader of the flock as the rest are far more sheep-like in their behaviour than him. His endless cleverness is endearing. Shaun's cousin Timmy, a little lamb, had his own TV show, featuring his adventures in pre school.  That show gave my family continuous delight, so I was inclined to love the whole sheep family and this movie, and thanks to the good work of Aardman Animations, this was very easy to do.

In the movie, all Shaun wants is a change from the dull monotony of his life which follows the exact pattern you'd expect of a flock, but this bores Shaun immensely. He comes up with his first ingenious plan to get the farmer out of the way, so they can all have a holiday, but a series of unforeseen and convenient accidents catapults them into an adventure which they did not count on and which proves to be much more stressful for Shaun. Very stressful indeed. If I were Shaun, I'd want a holiday by the time the adventure finally comes to an end.

The story is inventive and cleverly executed as Shaun and the flock try to navigate the city to find the farmer and avoid an insane (no other way to describe him) animal control officer. Whenever Shaun comes up with a plan, I found myself waiting in anticipation to see what this clever sheep had come up with next. After seeing this movie, I think it's safe to say that I feel the same way about the Aardman Animations team. They've created a madcap story which had me laughing hard and long, and they put together clever scenarios which come together into an amazing, delightful fabric of adventure, ingenuity and family.  The last, by the way, inspires some poignant moments which will surely pluck at your emotions. As with everything else it is done exceptionally well.

I don't bother much with whether a movie is meant for children or not. I'm more concerned with whether it's good or not, and this is a great one. If the audience for this movie is a deal breaker for you though, be assured that this is a movie that will appeal to young and old alike. Don't hesitate. You won't regret it.

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