Shaun the Sheep Movie ★★★★

Hilarious. Touching. Heartfelt. Delightful.

Shaun and his sheep friends organize a daring coup in order to get rid of the farmer who takes care of them, but soon they realize that they needed him around more than they realized. Shenanigans ensue when the farmer loses his memory and becomes a famous hairstylist and the sheep encounter an animal abductor who thinks he's James Bond (when really he’s Blofeld). The story eventually comes together as a tale of family and friendship all the more lovable because of the way it shows folks who used to be enemies coming together and standing up for each other. A truly loving portrait of family and friendship.

Completely lacking in pretense despite the incredible accomplishment of creating a silent film without drawing attention to it (only a very few moments "feel" the absence of dialogue). Strong characterization despite this lack of dialogue, particularly in the leads (Shaun, the dog, and the farmer), but almost the entire flock becomes easily identifiable by the end. Setup and payoff for every joke and story beat is just phenomenal (the movie creates its own in-jokes in under 90 minutes). This might sound like really basic stuff, but the fact that it's done more competently than in movies with words is just unimaginable (i.e. if the first half of WALL-E were turned into a feature). A modern study in visual storytelling.

Shaun the Sheep Movie may be designed for children, but its message is timeless and its craft shows a rare talent and attention to detail that can be enjoyed by all ages. Maybe not Aardman's best, but a notable animated feature for the whole family.

2015: New Releases | Stop-Motion Animation