Good thing this movie wasn’t bad.
Shaun is a sheep who, for the longest time, has been forced to do the same thing each and everyday. He’s always made to stay within the confines of the fences around him, allowed to play with his fellow other sheep, and at the end of the day, get sheered and continue on with the next day. However, one day, sick and tired of just doing the same crap day in and day out, Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun for once. However, Shaun gets a lot more than just fun and is now realizing that perhaps breaking from the schedule maybe wasn’t the best idea. There’s a small mix-up with the Farmer, a caravan, and a hill that lead Shaun, as well as the rest of the flock to the Big City and now, it’s being left up to Shaun to gather up the flock and the Farmer, and return safely to home, all safe, sound, and in one piece.
There’s not much of a plot to Shaun the Sheep, nor does there need to be – it’s just fine in its own, simple skin where it isn’t asking much of its audience to follow along with, but still pay attention. For instance, due to the fact that this is an Aardman piece, it goes without saying that there’s a bunch of small jokes, visual gags, and bits of humor that need some sort of attention from the brain to not just understand, but actually laugh at. Sure, the animation itself is great to look and still, even after all these years, impressively original, given the general landscape of the world of animation, but really, it’s the jokes here that set Aardman apart from the rest of the competition.
And with Shaun the Sheep, they can rest safely knowing that their streak has not been broken.
As is the case with most of Aardman pictures, the humor can be considered easily accessible to all parties who decide to check this out. Because a good portion of the audience who will want to actually see this are in fact, little kids who don’t really get certain jokes, or pay attention at all, it would make sense that they’d be given all the usual slapstick that you’d expect them to laugh and point at. But Aardman takes it one step further and also doesn’t forget about the adults who are mostly dragged-out to see these movies and give them a little something to laugh and point at in their own right.
However, unlike other comedies like Shrek or Despicable Me, they aren’t given a bunch of modern-day pop-culture references that would show the creators as being “hip” and “with the times”, but instead, just witty jokes that continue to build and build and build. Eventually, yes, there’s a pay-off to a lot of these jokes and while they don’t always land as well as certain others, they do, for the most part, all bring a chuckle or two to the movie and shows what can happen when you put just a bit more thought into writing humor. It’s not just how funny the end of the joke is, or what it’s punchline is, it’s how you get to said punchline, as well as what you’re able to do to try an distract the audience so that they can be surprised when said punchline does arrive and actually makes them laugh.
I’m definitely putting a lot more thought and process into Shaun the Sheep‘s humor than I probably should, but so be it.
The people behind Shaun the Sheep clearly care for their product and aren’t just trying to cash in on some sort of name-brand that will either be appealing to kids and families, or their target audience. Yes, they know that the people who have been coming to see their movies for years, will continue to do so because they know that their brand of animation is far more smarter and thoughtful than most others out there (aka, crap like Norm of the North), but they also do realize that other people who don’t pay attention to the substance and effort they put into their movies, may want to go see the movies as well, mostly due to the fact that their animation. But instead of dumbing themselves down to the highest-bidder, they keep with their original identity, and keep things fun, exciting, lovely, and most importantly, hilarious.
And sure, Shaun the Sheep may not be the key piece of animation that Aardman proves its dominance with, but it’s an obvious sign as to why they do still work, given all of the movies they’ve done. Kids love to watch the goofy-looking characters fall, do silly things, hurt themselves quite a lot, and yet still get back up, whereas parents love to watch them set jokes up, continue to add more to said jokes, and then, at the end, deliver on them. In other words, everybody’s a winner with Aardman’s movies and it makes me, a film-lover, happy to know that there are people out there who still care for animation and aren’t just leeching off name recognition or popularity – if anything, they’re just trying to give the people what they want, as well as staying dedicated to the die-hard who continue to come back to them, time and time again.
Now if only Pixar remained that faithful.
Consensus: Shaun the Sheep is another piece of Aardman animation that not only looks great, but also flows nicely, is funny for all ages, and perfect for the whole family to sit down, not watch for too long, and enjoy – something all animation should be.
8 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz