A magnificent age of animation has been a major part of our lives this past decade, with a great variety of animation studies creating classics, most notably by the delicate hands of Disney, the goofy yet endearing presence of Dreamworks and the emotionally challenging extravagance of Pixar.
Then, following a long hiatus, in comes Aardman Animations with its stop motion bliss once again in “Shaun the Sheep.” Shaun first began as a one-off character to the wildly popular animated shorts known as “Wallace & Gromit,” eventually branching out with his own show, becoming as popular as other Aardman productions.
The movie contains a rather simple plot, in which Shaun, the main sheep of his group, has grown tired of the repetitive nature of farm life and successfully incapacitates his owner, the Farmer, with the intention of finally having a nice day off. However, following a series of dire circumstances, the Farmer is whisked away from Mossy Bottom Farm and is sent careening towards The Big City, where Shaun and friends go off to on an adventure to get the Farmer back, at any cost.
The goodness of this film begins simply with the visual aesthetic of the whole affair; its uniqueness lies in its animation. Painstakingly created stop motion animation is so rarely seen these days because of the long and tedious process of frame-by-frame animation shooting. However, in the careful hands of Aardman, it is done perfectly right.
Shaun and his cohorts earn the right to their own film just with this, but they do not stop there fortunately.The film, despite the brevity of its running time, is stuffed with a nice platter of delightfully subtle comedy in the likes of Charlie Chaplin or The Three Stooges, with sophisticated slapstick at every corner with every character.
Sight gags are in full stock (in particular, an outrageous gag with a staring dog), and the film overall truly shines with the inclusion of a heartwarming second half. Despite the tiresome nature of Shaun’s farm life with his friends and fellow dog pal Bitzer, there is truly a deep love and care between them and the Farmer that cements the reasoning of why they are risking everything to find and help the Farmer at whatever cost.
Ultimately, “Shaun the Sheep” is yet another milestone in a great age of animation, and a milestone in a scarcely seen animation form that should be watched on the big screen at the fullest price. Meticulously crafted with laugh-a-minute gags and heartwarming from beginning to end (especially with the main song in the soundtrack, “Feels like Summer”), “Shaun the Sheep” is not only one of the best animated movies of the year, next to “Inside Out,” but it is also one of the must-watch films of the year in any genre. Bravo, Aardman, with this tour de force.
Film: “Shaun the Sheep Movie”
Director: Richard Starzak and Mark Burton
Release Date: Aug. 5, 2015