Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
United Kingdom/France/USA, 2015. StudioCanal, Aardman Animations, Anton, Amazon Prime Video, StudioCanal International. Screenplay by Mark Burton, Richard Starzak, based on characters created by Nick Park. Cinematography by Charles Copping, Dave Alex Riddett. Produced by Paul Kewley, Julie Lockhart. Music by Ilan Eshkeri. Production Design by Matt Perry. Film Editing by Sim Evan-Jones.
Life on Mossy Bottom Farm is a daily grind of routine shearings and feedings, with Farmer and his trusty dog Bitzer keeping perfect time on their duties without fail. Shaun, the insouciant sheep with the cool ‘do who is always getting himself and his faithful flock into trouble, longs for a change and finds his inspiration on how to achieve it in an advertisement that depicts a woman lounging around in luxury.
Shaun decides that his flock needs a day off and executes a brilliant plan that involves putting Farmer to sleep in his caravan, while Bitzer is distracted with a bone, arranged quite smoothly through a back-alley payment of bread to a member of the fowl community on the farm. Just as the ovines are sitting down to a movie rental and martinis in front of the television, however, their plan creates far more trouble than Shaun had anticipated when the Farmer’s caravan rolls off the property and all the way into the big city, where an accident gives him a bump on his head that wipes out his memory.
Bitzer heads into the busy metropolis to find his beloved master and the sheep soon follow, delayed in their search by a villainous animal containment worker who is determined to keep the streets clean of any filthy creatures (this necessitates some very humorous human disguises on the part of our four-legged heroes). Meanwhile, Farmer manages to fall into a career as a stylist to the stars, growing in popularity while having only scant memories of his previous life of peaceful agriculture.
The popular television series about the mischievous Shaun has been brought to the big screen with its perfectly brittle humour intact, with the Aardman team, as always, putting a great deal of character depth into their Claymation figures. There’s no dialogue, all the humans make guttural noises that never equate to any particular language, and everything relies entirely on clever sight gags and deeply ironic expressions to tell this delightful tale.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Animated Feature
Critics Choice Award Nomination: Best Animated Feature
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Animated Feature
European Film Award Nomination: Best European Animated Feature