Before Sunday's Leicester Square premier I knew very little about Shaun the Sheep, save that it was a spin off from the popular Wallace and Gromit animation. Most Sundays I meet a group of friends for what we high-mindedly call 'Film Club', however this week one of them was walking Aardman Animation's grass green carpet to celebrate Rizzle Kicks performing the movie's final song, What Do You Know About Shaun The Sheep? We figured it was time for an official Film Club Outing and so, donning our freebie sheep headbands, we sat back anticipating a viewing peppered with screaming children.
In terms of a sophisticated plot, there is there is only so much scope for an animated children's film about sheep, however the value of the film lies elsewhere. That said the simple 'sheep-want-a-holiday-so-trick-farmer-who-ends-up-as-a-celebrity-hairdresser-in-the-city' is a fairly solid set-up for any comedy. However the most obvious point to address is the fantastic stop-motion that takes animators roughly a day to produce three seconds worth of footage. As to be expected it's kids' comedy at its is well-timed, occasionally slap stick and joyful finest, but as with all the best cartoons there's also something for the grown ups - including a multitude of in-jokes referring to the likes of Taxi Driver, Terminator and even Breaking Bad.
If the last Aardman animation you saw was Wallace and Gromit you'll be charmed to notice how observant and up-to-date Shaun The Sheep is; from the shabby shuttered dry cleaners to the torn John Cooper Clark poster, there is a pervasive thoughtfulness that reflects the laid-back alternative attitude native to Bristol, home of the Aardman animation house. Even the bus station is from the pigeons' point of view. There's also a subtle but poignant moral to the story – to be grateful for what you have, which is something we could all do with remembering now and then.
I can't profess to know an awful lot even after watching eighty-five minutes of Shaun inspired antics, but what I do know about Shaun the Sheep is that he's a plucky little character with sound morals. I'd go so far as to say he's a lateral thinker, but he is a right sucker for advertising. The reliance on physical humour rather than dialogue gives the film universal appeal; the exuberant soundtrack features Eliza Doolittle and Rizzle Kicks and it was the buoyant punch-line foley that punctuated the film, rather than the tantrums of bored children. Perhaps the most telling sign that Shaun The Sheep is a winner is that directors, Richard Starzak and Mark Burton, kept an entire cinema of children – not to mention Film Club - thoroughly absorbed.
In cinemas 6th February
In cinemas 6th February