THERE is a theory that animated films are only really designed to entertain children.
But once again, that theory has been dispelled with Shaun the Sheep Movie, which sees the lovable character from Wallace and Gromit and his self-titled TV show being given his own spin-off feature film.
It focuses on the adventures of Shaun and his fellow flock as they begin their traditional day-to-day routine of being tended to on their quiet farm with their beloved owner, who is simply credited as Farmer.
All is going fine until a chaotic incident involving hypnosis, an out-of-control caravan and sheep chasing results in Farmer being (comically) injured and thus being diagnosed with amnesia.
It then lies on Shaun and company having to find a way to get Farmer out of the city he has become lost in and get him back to the farm. If that isn’t enough, the sheep also have to deal with avoiding the villainous Trumper, a sadistic animal controller who gradually makes it his life’s mission to destroy our heroes of the story.
From beginning to end, with exception of deliberate mumbling, there is not a single word of dialogue used, something that works brilliantly by employing a Mr Bean-esque manner of visual comedy where occasionally up to several humorous moments can occur in a minute.
One sequence in particular stands out where the sheep quickly improvise a scheme to avoid Trumper. By just happening to be next to a poster promoting a picturesque society, they sit together to make it appear that they are actually in the poster which our villain falls for.
When the sheep run away, he turns back to the poster only to discover that the ‘sheep’ of the poster are suddenly gone, prompting a priceless reaction. The spontaneity of this sequence is a testament to the talent that the filmmakers clearly have for being able to provide something that can work for fans of any other kind of cinema, let alone stop-motion animation.
From the sheep attempting to gatecrash Farmer’s house as their own to barely disguising themselves in charity shop clothes at a restaurant or the inadvertent talent for hairstyling Farmer discovers, this film is littered with moments that are all clever, inventive and witty.
Despite a diabolical modern pop soundtrack which would’ve been far better if replaced by the film’s generic music, Shaun the Sheep Movie works as a visually splendid piece of storytelling that will entertain children and adults alike. If there is a sequel, it will be totally understandable and deserved.