Any child growing up in the UK over the last few years will recognise the iconic and trouble-loving sheep, Shaun, bleating rather intelligently out of their TV screens.
The Wallace and Gromit spin-off, with its unusually smart protagonist and use of unintelligible dialogue – ever since first airing seven years ago – has captured the hearts of children and adults alike. Adapting this magic for the big screen was surely going to be tricky? Not.
In the movie, Shaun is seen going through the daily motions with his sheep friends, Blitzer and The Farmer, waking up at the crack of dawn (humorous alarm provided by an affable rooster), eating, walking and being sheared for wool (among other monotonous tasks).
After seeing a very convenient ad on the local bus that advises him to take “a day off”, Shaun decides to be his characteristically naughty self and stages a coup, putting The Farmer to sleep for the day so that they can rest. After a series of hilarious mishaps, The Farmer ends up en route to “The Big City”, where he eventually finds himself in a hospital diagnosed with memory loss. With their owner missing, Shaun and his friends set out on a journey to find and rescue him.
Right off the bat, the opening sequences are funny and concise, with the comedy natural and, although not 100% original, packing an entertaining punch. This adaptation retains the best that Shaun the Sheep has to offer, bringing its stop-motion animation to incredible heights. The direction is fabulously done, with the action sequences induced with beautiful humour and the expressions on the characters depicted brilliantly.
The film isn’t without its moments of poignancy either: watching the animated tears roll fluidly down the characters’ cheeks is one of the most heart-breaking sights you’ll see on the big screen this year (or maybe even the next).
Although the film follows a familiar formula, it does so with style and originality, and a sense of awareness of what both children and grown-ups will enjoy. The film’s greatest success is that anyone, whether it be an octogenarian struggling to put his glasses on or a three-year-old toddler, can enjoy it. This may not quite whip up the same frenzy as Chicken Run and Curse of the Were-Rabbit, but it retains a quintessential British humour and manages moments that genuinely feel timeless.
Shaun the Sheep is a well-made film, featuring a story that begs you to be involved. Take your kids, take your parents or take yourself. This is a film that will not let you down.
Shaun the Sheep: The Movie is out in UK cinemas on February 6th.