Matias Bombal’s Hollywood

The MPAA has rated this PG

Lionsgate/StudioCanal/Aardman Animations bring us “Shaun the Sheep”, the adventures of a bold sheep that longs to break from the farm routine by taking a day off. In this age of computer generated animation, to find the artful type of animation that was popularized by George Pal in the 1930s with his famous “Puppetoons” is a rare handmade treat indeed. The genius behind Shaun is Nick Park, who has delighted many with lovable Wallace and Gromit, the stars of his first hit movie. “Chicken Run” followed that success in the year 2000. Cleverness makes this just as fun for adults as it does for children, and detail rich it is, so much so, you may have to return a few times to try and catch every subtle detail.

Shaun (the sheep), a small and rather cute diminutive ovine hatches a plot to go to town by having his fellow sheep lure their farmer to sleep in order to escape. The farmer’s dog gets wise to their plan, and tries to stop them. However, the dog inadvertently sets adventure in motion by a crazy domino effect that sends his master down the hill and away to town in an old trailer- totally asleep. The sheep enjoy liberty for one day, but without the farmer to feed them, things get edgy for the sheep by the second day. The farmer’s pigs, seizing a great chance, move right into the house.

Remorseful, Shaun takes it upon himself to find their farmer and bring him back so all will be right with the world. He takes a big bus to the city by himself, to try and find the master. Sheep, being what they are, naturally can’t allow that, it’s not their nature. They can’t help but follow. They’re all off to the big city to save the farmer in his runaway trailer. Moments after they got off the bus, they encounter Trumper, the sadistic Animal Control man… evil personified, and a good villain indeed. Shaken by the city, they devise a plan to rescue their farmer once they find him. Just one thing. He has suffered memory loss.

Shaun’s ovine adventures are “shear” fun, and after a while you are taken with the very human behaviors of these sheep, as the clever talents at Aardman animations bring these little characters to life on the big screen by millions of manipulations on a much smaller scale before the camera. The countless hours, days, and months of animation work result in just 85 minutes of screen time.

Although Nick Park has created this wonderful world, the writer-directors of this production are Mark Burton and Richard Starzak. The sheep and adults figures on screen don’t really speak, it’s gibberish that has human inflections. The joy of this artistic choice is the pleasant result that this movie may be universally understood by children and adults of all ages the world ’round with no need for subtitles. This is a clever and delightful way to spend some time at the movies, and you may have the inclination, after seeing it, as I do, to return again to catch many details you might have missed the first time.

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