If you like stop-motion animation, Shaun the Sheep is worth checking out. If you happen to like stop-motion animation and fart jokes, well, this movie’s going to make you feel like a pig in mud. And if you don’t like stop-motion animation, ask yourself why, and see if Shaun the Sheep makes you squeal with delight. Because this movie is simply beautiful to watch.
Having tried to make a stop-motion re-enactment of the war of 1812 for history class one year, using GI Joes, I have an appreciation for how difficult it is to pull off something passable. Getting to a flawless finished product like Shaun the Sheep must be insanely difficult. The effort is all on the screen and it’s marvelous. This clearly was a labour of love for all involved at Aardman Animations.
As for the story, it’s strictly for kids, but the target audience is going to be as happy as a dog with two tails (as they were at our packed Saturday morning screening). The interesting thing is there are no actual words being used by any of these characters, it’s all just noise. Minions did a similar thing and did it well, and I’d say Shaun the Sheep one ups Minions because not even the humans speak English (which is ironic for a movie coming out of the UK) yet the story still seemed clear and easy to follow even for the younger audience members.
There are lots of laughs for kids here but fewer for adults. A few gags are universal (counting sheep in particular) but it seemed that the writers were just throwing the occasional bone to the expected parental crowd rather than trying to make this movie appeal directly to all ages. As Jay has mentioned in the past, that across-the-board accessibility expectation for animation is a product of Pixar’s excellence that didn’t traditionally exist. I won’t hold the lack of adult focus against Shaun the Sheep, because it’s a throwback by nature and as a kids movie it hits the bullseye.
I give Shaun the Sheep nine farm animal references out of ten.