Just because a select group of companies have a monopoly on something doesn’t mean there isn’t an alternative provider offering a quality product in the same field — it’s just more difficult for their voices to be heard over the din. When it comes to animated movies, there are three studios that are likely first-of-mind and Aardman Animations is not one of them. Yet the British company has produced quality, award-winning entertainment for decades, most notably creating the lovable duo Wallace and Gromit. The company is once again entering feature-length territory with another popular character in Shaun the Sheep the Movie.
Day after day, the Farmer, his dog Bitzer and the sheep drudge through the daily schedule of shepherding, grooming and feeding. Tired of the monotony, Shaun the Sheep decides they should all have a day off. With the help of his friends, he sidelines the Farmer and Bitzer so the sheep can enjoy a day of uninterrupted leisure. But a caravan accident sends everyone racing to the “Big City.” The Farmer’s new calling, a disastrous fine-dining experience and a persistent animal catcher are just a few of the obstacles preventing Shaun from getting everyone home and making everything right again.
The art of stop-motion filmmaking is a rarity amongst the high-tech CGI that occupies most contemporary movies. Yet it’s impossible to resist the exceptional narratives brought to life in this distinctive style of visual storytelling. Perhaps the labour involved in creating these pictures means it only moves forward after the script is deemed its best possible — if only all motion pictures were held to the same standard. Nonetheless, Aardman’s stop-motion clay animation films are absolutely brilliant. The plot is relatively simple, yet wholly entertaining from start to finish with a variety of hijinks to keep up the film’s pace. It’s often silly but never stupid, delivering comedy that audiences of all ages can enjoy. And it does so without uttering a word for the entire picture.
It’s one thing to make a great looking movie that is practically flawless and totally enjoyable, but it’s doubly impressive to accomplish this feat in silence. None of the characters, human or otherwise, speak during the film. They make some noises and gestures, such as a groan or thumbs up, but that’s it. The entire story is conveyed through the dynamic faces and actions of the characters and not a thing is missed in the process. The only actual voices come from the movie’s soundtrack, which includes Eliza Doolittle’s “Big City,” Rizzle Kicks’s version of “Life’s a Treat” and a barbershop quartet’s rendition of “Feels Like Summer.”
Fans of the TV series, studio and/or quality movies will not be disappointed with this release.