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SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE

SYNOPSIS: When Shaun (voice of Justin Fletcher) decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with the Farmer (John Sparkes), a caravan and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City and it's up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home.

Review by Louise Keller:
A baa baa shop quartet, a cat making Hannibal Lecter noises and a dog disguised as a surgeon are some of the elements of this Aardman stop animation that relies on simple ideas, keenly observed action and a flock of humour. If like me, you are a Wallace and Gromit fan, you will be keen to discover the wacky world of Shaun the Sheep in a wild and woolly adventure from Mossy Bottom Farm to the Big City and back again. But don't set your expectations too high. Like the TV series from which they come, the film is dialogue-free, but never lacking in personality or innovation. Mark Burton and Richard Starzak's film is charming entertainment for young and old, as it hilariously reinforces the notion that There's No Place Like Home.

In the opening sequences, the characters and setting are clearly set. The cock crows and The Farmer wakes as life of Mossy Bottom Farm with Bitzer the sheepdog and Shaun and the sheep start a brand new day. The expressions of the sheep - limited as they are - take place through the eyes, darting here and there, while mouths hilariously occasionally appear like a side-saddle at left or right of the face. Life takes a new direction when the idea of taking a day off concretes in Shaun's mind. Mischief follows.

I laughed when the sheep jump over hedges in quick succession to hypnotise The Farmer into a state of slumber, allowing their plan to take effect. As the amnesia-suffering Farmer becomes a star-coiffeur, using his sheep-sheering experience to set new trends, Shaun and the sheep embark on a myriad of adventures as they try to rescue him as well as avoiding containment themselves. I love the scenes in which the sheep wear clothes as a disguise; there are many priceless moments and you will need to keep a close watch - or you'll miss them.

The film delivers an appealing innocence; a youthful joie de vivre that seduces. It may not have the heart or allure of Wallace and Gromit, but it's fun to have the wool pulled over your eyes for a short interlude.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The wonderful English eccentricity of Aardman's Wallace and Gromit captured our hearts and minds, their na•ve antics and slam dunk adventures fed our funny bones. There is still a trace of all that in Shaun the Sheep, but not the distinctive personas nor the full bottle of wit. The sheep (as is their wont) all look the same more or less, diluting the very essence of the Aardman writing style. Animator Nick Park still has the magic claymation touch, though, and there are some wonderful scenes and moments, although the story sags a bit until the last act.

The lack of story clarity and character identity robs the film of punch, and there is too much forced humour as the sheep accidentally end up in the Big City, where the Animal Containment ranger is their worst nightmare. Their friendly farmer has fallen into a deep sleep .... before getting knocked on the head and forgetting everything, so he is unable to help them. Mind you, he has his adventures as an accidental hair dresser to the glitterati, using his shearing skills to advantage.

The Gromit-like farm dog reminds us of the joys of this creature, but he doesn't quite live up to those memories. Where Aardman's previous work catered to all ages, Shaun the Sheep seems to be aimed at younger audiences. The exceptions are the hair salon routines and the wonderful creation of the Animal Containment 'jail' and its hybrid inhabitants, including adaptations of human jailbird stereotypes ... with a hilarious cameo from a canine Hannibal Lecter.

For kids enjoying their first Aardman film, it's probably great fun, but for most of us fans, it doesn't quite meet expectations.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE (G)
(UK/France, 2015)

VOICES: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djilali, Richard Webber, Kate Harbour, Tim Hinds, Andy Nyman, Simon Greenall, Emma Tate

PRODUCER: Paul Kewley, Julie Lockhart

DIRECTOR: Mark Burton, Richard Starzack

SCRIPT: Mark Burton, Richard Starzack

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Charles Copping, Dave Alex Riddett

EDITOR: Sim Evan-Jones

MUSIC: Ilan Eshkeri

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Matt Perry

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Studio Canal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 26, 2015







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